Barring fourth-quarter meltdown, franchise history says Lovie stays

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Barring fourth-quarter meltdown, franchise history says Lovie stays

The key to the future often lies in the past and barring a near epic collapse in multiple bad losses, franchise history points to Lovie Smith remaining Bears head coach through the 2013 end of his current contract.
 
More than missing the playoffs will be required for the Bears to jettison a well-liked coach who began this season 14 games over .500 for his career.
 
Some sentiment did exist in high places at the end of last season to sever ties with Smith along with general manager Jerry Angelo. The 11 million remaining on the coachs contract was a tipping point for giving him another year. But it was not the sole reason.
 
Consider: Dave Wannstedt made the 1994 playoffs, then missed by increasing margins for the next three years. He was then brought back for the 1998 season and when that 4-12 record pushed the playoff-less streak to four, he was dismissed.
 
Dick Jauron bought himself an extension with a 13-3 mark in 2001. His team collapsed to 4-12 the following years amid a blizzard of injuries (sound familiar?) and Angelo, who had designs on Nick Saban for Jaurons job, had to wait through a second dismal season before Jauron was out.
 
Smith missed the playoffs the three years after his 2006 Super Bowl season but managed a near-miss 9-7 season in 2008. The NFC Championship appearance in 2010 was followed by a 7-3 start last season before an injury fest that destroyed that playoff run.
 
If the Bears happen to miss again, it will in all likelihood still be a winning season, unless the Bears somehow bumble away games with Green Bay, Arizona and Detroit. Even then it would be two seasons without playoffs.
 
Would the equivalent of playoffs every three years be grounds for firing? Not likely, for an organization that in fact does value character in its field bosses. Michael McCaskey did fire Mike Ditka after one miserable year (1992) following consecutive playoff appearances but that coach-GM relationship was toxic for years.
 
Smiths with Phil Emery is not. And Smith has a year on his contract. If Smith can stanch the hemorrhaging vs. Green Bay, or even win the final two, teams seldom fire 10-6 coaches.

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Jimmy Butler records triple-double as Bulls beat Cavaliers again without LeBron James

Jimmy Butler records triple-double as Bulls beat Cavaliers again without LeBron James

Winning a game against a LeBron James led team has proven to be an easier task than most for the Chicago Bulls in the last couple regular seasons.

And winning without James has proven to be a herculean task for the Cleveland Cavaliers since his return in 2014.

So putting those two events together seemed to produce an inevitable result at Quicken Loans Arena, with James out due to illness, as the Bulls pulled away from the Cavaliers 117-99 Saturday night.

The win marks the fourth straight for the Bulls, pulling them over .500 for the first time in nearly two months and they lead the season series 3-0 over the NBA Champions.

Of course, if James were healthy perhaps the Cavaliers would look more cohesive but without him, only Kyrie Irving was in double figures amongst the starters for most of the night. Irving was unguardable with 34 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

After the lead rose to 20, Irving went to work to get the Cavaliers back in it by scoring eight in the quarter and cutting the lead in half with 2:30 left. But without James, the Bulls were able to hold off the Cavaliers with baskets from 
Cristiano Felicio and Nikola Mirotic, who had his second straight big game with 14 points and 10 boards.

A third-quarter flurry from the Bulls gave them some breathing room after a back-and-forth 24 minutes. The Cavs threatened to blow the game open with a 65-59 lead to start the third but the Bulls quickly turned the tables, getting stops and leaking out for fast breaks.

Dwyane Wade corralled weak-side rebounds and popped it ahead to Butler and Bobby Portis for layups. 

Butler then hit two triples in succession to give the Bulls a 76-67 lead.

He struggled from the field but hit four triples on his way to 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and Wade was one rebound short—one Felicio rebound attempt with seconds remaining, from getting a triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes

But the 3-point shooting has been a welcome addition since the trade of Doug McDermott, their best 3-point shooter.

Denzel Valentine followed up his sterling showing Friday night with another competent and confident performance, hitting three triples to score 11 and at least competing on the defensive end.

Cameron Payne made his debut as a Bull and hit two triples in the first half, both passes off the ball as he hasn't had enough time to grasp the offense, only going through a morning walkthrough with the coaching staff after the team arrived in Cleveland.

All in all, the Bulls had their ninth game with 10 or more triples, hitting 15.