Bulls visit Sixers tonight on Comcast SportsNet

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Bulls visit Sixers tonight on Comcast SportsNet

The Bulls have had mixed results playing the second part of back-to-backs on their schedule this season, but they'll look to rebound from last night's home loss to the Clippers when they square off against Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

Tom Thibodeau's group has played four back-to-backs in 2012, with a 2-2 record in the latter game. But tonight's will be a tough test, as last night's late 8:30 start will be a quick turnaround after the Bulls lose an hour traveling to Philadelphia. On Nov. 3, Chicago fell to Anthony Davis and the Hornets at home the night after a win in Cleveland. During their circus road trip, Chicago went from Los Angeles to Portland overnight, and fell to the Trail Blazers, 102-94. Last week, the Bulls won in Cleveland on Nov. 5 after a Nov. 4 home loss to Indiana, and turned around on Nov. 8 to beat the red-hot New York Knicks after beating the Pistons in Detroit the previous night.

MORE: Bulls hang tough, but can't overcome firepower of Clippers

The Sixers began their home slate 4-4, but have since won three of their last four. They are just 4-4 on the road, with one of those losses coming in a Dec. 1 game in Chicago, 93-88. Another low-scoring affair should be in store tonight, as the Bulls have allowed the second-fewest points per game (91.4), with the Sixers ranking eighth in the same category (94.5).

Stopping the 23-year-old Holiday will be the Bulls' first order of business. He has exploded on the scene in his first year as the team's go-to player -- following the departure of Andre Iguodala and the injury to Andrew Bynum -- and torched the Bulls for 23 points and 7 assists in the teams' first meeting. Holiday is third in the NBA with 8.9 assists, but he's also committing 3.8 turnovers per game, the fourth-highest mark in the league. He has cut down on his miscues, averaging just 2.0 giveaways in his last five games, and committed just one turnover against Chicago, but the Bulls will need to find a way to force Holiday into situations that will allow them to get out and run.

While Rip Hamilton is out -- he scored 15 points against the Sixers earlier this month -- the Bulls have a new X-factor of sorts at their disposal. Sharpshooter Marco Belinelli has been magnificent since Hamilton's injury, averaging 19.8 points while playing a whopping 41.5 minutes over the last four games. The Bulls took just seven 3-pointers in their last meeting against the Sixers, but have attempted 15.6 shots beyond the arc the last three games. Almost half (22) have come from Belinelli, and as long as he stays in rhythm, that number should stay around the same.

MORE: Against NBA's elite, Bulls must be almost perfect

It's still early in the season, but with both teams nearly identical in the standings, the Bulls could secure the season series with a win tonight -- the two teams will play again on Feb. 28 at the United Center.

The Bulls are looking to continue their hot streak in second games of back-to-backs while the Sixers have been home since Sunday, so something's bound to give tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

Tune into Comcast SportsNet to see if Chicago can extend its lead in the Central Division.

Reports: Dolphins assistant Jeremiah Washburn to be Bears' new O-line coach

Reports: Dolphins assistant Jeremiah Washburn to be Bears' new O-line coach

The Bears have reportedly found a new offensive line coach.

According to multiple reports Monday, Jeremiah Washburn will become the team's new offensive line coach, replacing Dave Magazu.

Washburn worked as an assistant offensive line coach this past season with the Miami Dolphins under Adam Gase, the Bears' former offensive coordinator.

Prior to his season in South Florida, he spent seven seasons with the Detroit Lions, working three of them as the team's offensive line coach after three as an assistant offensive line coach.

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This past season, the Bears ranked 17th in the NFL in rushing with 1,735 yards as a team. Only eight teams allowed fewer sacks than the Bears, who saw quarterbacks dropped by opposing defenses just 28 times. Bears quarterbacks were hit 73 teams, also a top-10 mark in the league.

The Bears also committed a good number of holding penalties, 1.68 per game, which was only bested by seven teams.

Magazu was a longtime member of John Fox's staffs in Chicago, Denver and Carolina.

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Patrick Kane was summing up the Blackhawks' weekend, one that didn't go well in terms of points.

"Good way to kind of judge ourselves, where we're at," he said Sunday night. "Might be a little bit of a wake-up call to see how good we really are."

Well, in a way, it is. You can't really compare Friday's loss to Washington and Sunday's loss to Minnesota on performance; the Blackhawks didn't show up for the first game and were much better in the second. Nevertheless, it was the same result in each. The Blackhawks' lengthy hold on first place in the Western Conference ended, with the Wild taking over following Sunday's 3-2 victory.

It's not a sound-the-alarm situation, but the Blackhawks are certainly cognizant of the missed opportunity last weekend and that they came up short against the league's best.

Artem Anisimov agreed with Kane's assessment.

"We just need to play better. All four lines need to play better in all areas of the ice. Just be better in the little things," Anisimov said. "Back check, put stick in the right position, box the guy out, short shifts. All little things need to be better."

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Many of the little things that were absent against the Capitals were back against the Wild. But coach Joel Quenneville wasn't happy with mistakes made on goals allowed, especially the first two. And while Kane and the second line were a consistent scoring threat against the Wild, the other three lines weren't. It's a problem that's plagued the Blackhawks a good deal this season, even when they were stringing together victories.

There is no reason to think that, because of this weekend's results, the Blackhawks are going to falter against strong teams. They've done well against others already this season. They beat Montreal earlier this season, when the Canadiens were healthy and steamrolling everyone. They beat the New York Rangers when the Rangers and former Blackhawks backup goaltender Antti Raanta were on their respective hot streaks.

Still, Kane's analysis is correct: This should get the Blackhawks' attention. The Wild have beaten the Blackhawks in eight consecutive regular-season games now and will face them three more times this season. They have two more meetings with the Edmonton Oilers, who beat them soundly in November.

The Blackhawks' long reign atop the Western Conference standings is over. They’re currently second in the Central Division, with an eight-point cushion over the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks have done fairly well this season. But this weekend was a reminder that they can be better.

"The game (on Friday) was kind of like a shock to the system thinking maybe you're one of the top teams in the league, or being able to compete with one of the top teams, and we obviously got thoroughly outplayed. We came back (Sunday night). It was pretty even in chances. We might've even had more so, just kind of didn't pull it out," Kane said. "But (when) you've played two of the better teams in the league and lose, there's got to be room for improvement, right?"