Cutler sharp in return from concussion

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Cutler sharp in return from concussion

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall saw the drive in Jay Cutler earlier this week.
He was fiery, his sense of urgency the most Ive seen all year, Marshall said of the Bears starting quarterback. His ball had a lot of zip on it all week. He wanted it perfect in practice. He was ready to go, he was fired up.
Indeed, after missing last week with a concussion, Cuter was showing the moxie. His passes were sharp, his release quicker as the game continued. And then there was that one big hit, that lick after which you waited to see how long it would take Cutler to get up.
Fortunately, it wasnt long.
And after passing the necessary tests off the field entering Sundays game, Cutler passed them all on it, too, completing 23 of 31 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown in the Bears 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
On a day when the Bears needed the best from their quarterback, they got it. Cutler got protection from his offensive line, which took some big injury hits, adjusted when necessary and got the Bears up early. Save one interception a high pass off Brandon Marshalls fingertips that Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield caught Cutler had a strong outing.
He does a great job of controlling the clock, putting us in the right situations, Bears tackle Jonathan Scott said. He made some great audibles when we saw some interesting defensive fronts. I cant say enough. It was just a great performance.
Cutler had to take one big hit on the day, when Minnesotas Jared Allen leveled him from behind near the end of the first half. But Cutler got up without issue. The quarterback had to pass the necessary protocol to be cleared for Sundays game, but Cutler said he wasnt worried.
I felt confident about it, said Cutler, whos now 27-10 in his last 37 starts with the Bears. It was just a matter of going through the motions and talking to the doctors. I had a good week of practice. Guys really had to dial in to mentally prepare.
So did Cutler, which apparently wasnt a problem. It helped that the Bears had a solid run game to compliment, and take pressure off, Cutler. And even on the run...well, Cutlers usually fine there, too.
We had (Cutler) off his mark a few times and he was running around and Jay can make some throws when hes scrambling, Allen said. You just have to get him on the ground.
Fortunately for the Bears, Cutler wasnt on the ground much. He was too busy frustrating the Vikings.
Every team doesnt have a guy like we do at quarterback, Bears coach Lovie Smith said. When plays break down, weve got a guy who can scramble and make a play, can complete any throw you ask him to. And its just the confidence that comes with having your guy, your quarterback. No matter how its looking, guys have confidence that with Jay leading us, we can come back.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."