Smith vs. Rivera: Advantage Lovie

926875.png

Smith vs. Rivera: Advantage Lovie

In meetings between two defense-based head coaches, Lovie Smith has taken a 2-0 lead on his former defensive coordinator. And a certain irony ran through a some critical moments Sunday.
 
Smith has been excoriated by critics for the bend-dont-break of the Cover-2 base defense he favors and for failing to be flexible with what detractors decry as an outdated scheme.
 
But it was Ron Rivera who was victimized by apparent inflexibility and, ironically, the Cover-2.
 
Kellen Davis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in the fourth quarter when he found the open space behind linebackers in the Cover-2 that the Panthers were playing.
 
We got a Cover-2 down there and its good for me up the middle, said Davis, who was the secondary receiver on the play after Earl Bennett. It gave me a bunch of space in the middle out there.
 
After I cleared the linebackers, I had room out there and I wanted the ball. When I get past the linebacker, if he sits, Ive got him.
 
Davis said he expected to see a more customary alignment of quarters (four defensive backs in a line across the field). Curiously, in the Bears minds, the Panthers were locked in something like that all through the final drive that ended in Robbie Goulds game-winning field goal.
 
The Bears were prepared for the Panthers to change as the offense clicked methodically down the field. But when Carolina didnt vary, Cutler kept dropping dimes out there to Brandon Marshall and well do that all day, Davis said.
 

Fine with Marshall if the Panthers wanted to cheat as well.
 
Well if they did, we were going to have Earl Bennett down the pipe so we were waiting for them to cheat a little bit to my side and we were going to take advantage of Earl in the slot, Marshall said. They didnt do that and we just stuck to it. So if its not broke, dont fix it.

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. But 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 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.

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

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 Robin Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

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 as the Paul Zipser played heavy minutes and even finished out the game on the floor.

Zipser scored 13 and Nikola Mirotic scored 11 off the bench, with Jimmy Butler scoring 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes.

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Phillips senior three-star ranked defensive tackle Chris Elmore (6-foot-0, 270 pounds) has given Syracuse his verbal commitment while on his official visit.

Elmore, who first announced his decision via his Twitter account, was asked why he decided to commit to the Orangemen.

"(Syracuse) is the place for me," according to Elmore via text. "I just feel it and I didn't want to pass up a chance to play for Syracuse and in the ACC."

Elmore, who originally gave then Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck his verbal commitment back last summer reopened his recruiting process once Fleck left WMU to take the head coaching job at Minnesota.

Elmore is now the 20th known verbal commitment to Syracuse and the first from Chicagoland in the Class of 2017.