- Created on 10 December 2012
(AP) — Jay Cutler's neck stiffened up, and the Chicago Bears couldn't escape their early stumble at Minnesota.
The playoff race is tightening around them, too.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two first-quarter touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead the Vikings to a 21-14 victory on Sunday over the free-falling Bears, who have lost four of their last five games.
"We have to make sure we close this hole up before it gets too late," said wide receiver Devin Hester, who dropped a sure touchdown pass from Cutler when he was wide open up the middle on third-and-6 at the Minnesota 23 with about 4½ minutes left.
Brandon Marshall, who finished with 10 catches for 160 yards, couldn't snag the ball on the next play, giving the ball back to the Vikings (7-6). That was the last throw of the afternoon for Cutler, who took a late hit to the head from Everson Griffen earlier on that drive.
When the Bears (8-5) started their next possession, Jason Campbell was in at quarterback. Cutler was in obvious discomfort after the game, robotically turning his shoulders instead of his head while he stood at the podium to take questions from reporters.
"We all let the team down," Marshall said. He added: "I have to make that play. That was a momentum play. If we move the chains, the game is probably different. I've got to do better."
Whether it's mounting injuries, bad tackling or an erratic passing attack, the Bears have lost their first-half momentum. They host division-leading Green Bay next week then play at Arizona and Detroit to finish the season. Despite starting 7-1, the Bears have already started talking about needing to win out.
"That's fine. We can do that. The confidence is not wavering. We're fully confident that we can do that," defensive end Julius Peppers said, adding: "We don't need to do anything heroic or super-human to beat Green Bay."
If this slide has begun to feel familiar for the Bears, that's because it is. Last season, they lost five straight games after a 7-3 start and finished 8-8 to miss the playoffs. Cutler went 22 for 44 for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Josh Robinson got the first one after Alshon Jeffery got tangled up and slipped, returning the ball to the 5 to set up Peterson's second score.
"You know it's going to be a hostile environment and all that. We talk a lot about starting fast. You have to do that on the road," coach Lovie Smith said. "That opening drive really put us on our heels, and we never really recovered."
Cutler blamed the second interception on his neck, when his deep throw to Marshall was picked off by Smith and run back 56 yards to give the Vikings a 21-7 lead.
"Couldn't really follow through with it. Got the coverage we wanted," Cutler said, adding: "It sailed on me. It was nothing they were doing. Just they happen sometimes."
Marshall tried to take the blame for that one, too.
"That was another one of those plays I've got to make. When you have a hot-hand quarterback like that, you have to make the plays for him, because the more you make plays for him, the hotter he gets," Marshall said, noting his 6-foot-5 frame. "I've got to go up and get it."
Now the Bears must try to fend off another December fade under Smith, and they'll have to do it at less than full strength.
Cornerback Tim Jennings was out with an injured shoulder and linebacker Brian Urlacher, the man in the middle of the proud veteran defense, could be out for the rest of the season with a pulled hamstring. Defensive tackle Henry Melton hurt his shoulder in the first half. Kicker Robbie Gould was limited by a strained left calf that he suffered in pregame warm-ups, an injury that Smith said was a concern.
"You have to make every play count, and we didn't," Smith said.
Notes: Marshall joined Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison and Wes Welker as the only players in history with at least four seasons of 100 or more receptions. Marshall also set the all-time Bears record with his 101st catch this year. ... Through six games, the Bears gave up an average of 71 yards rushing. But they had given up 136 yards per game on the ground in the previous six games. The Vikings gained 171 yards rushing. ... Jennings, the NFL leader in interceptions, said he thinks there's a chance he can play against the Packers. "Later in the week, it was getting better each and every day," he said, "but the coaches decided to let it heal, which is smart because I still have a little soreness."
- Created on 07 December 2012
ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $500,000 in back child support to his ex-wife, her attorney said Thursday.
The flamboyant basketball player known for his off-court antics was sentenced to informal probation, his ex-wife's attorney, Mary Ann Noiroux, told City News Service. Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Barry Michaelson warned Rodman could face jail time if he doesn't pay the child support, she said.
Another attorney for Rodman's ex-wife argued in court that Rodman owed Michelle Rodman about $850,000, but Linnea Willis, the former NBA standout's attorney, challenged that figure, Noiroux said.
The two sides met outside court and agreed to $500,000, which Michaelson approved, Noiroux said.
Willis told The Associated Press the contempt finding came from Rodman unintentionally paying too little, pointing out that the judge gave Rodman no jail time or community service, and commended him for his previous community service in the case.
Willis said in a phone interview that Rodman was not present at a March 2009 hearing where he was ordered to pay additional child support and was not properly served the documents with the new order, resulting in several months of underpayment.
"He's been complying with the court orders ever since he found out the correct information," Willis said.
She said she would seek to have the $500,000 payment order overturned because Rodman was not present in court to challenge the initial order and his previous attorneys missed a deadline to have it set aside.
Dennis and Michelle Rodman must still work out custody and visitation for their two pre-teen children: a son and a daughter.
A trial is set for Jan. 24 on those issues, but the two hope to work out an agreement before the court date, Noiroux said.
This isn't the first time Dennis Rodman has been found in contempt.
Rodman, recognizable by his facial piercings and his hair that's died in brilliant colors, was ordered to perform 104 hours of community service in May after being found guilty of four counts of contempt for failure to pay child support for 2009 and 2010.
Willis said Rodman performed those hours and 23 more.
The legal battle between Rodman and his former spouse began in 2004, when Michelle Rodman filed for divorce.
Dennis Rodman was a bad-boy star of the Detroit Pistons and won three NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year.
The eccentric athlete who once dated Madonna and was briefly married to Carmen Electra lived in California's Orange County before moving to Florida.
He frequently attracted the attention of police with loud parties at his Newport Beach residence.
- Created on 05 December 2012
Chicago State University women's head basketball coach Angela Jackson is entering her tenth season as head coach of the Cougars, and although she's been coaching for over twenty years she still thrives on the challenge of helping her athletes win on and off the court.
Jackson has enjoyed winning seasons like 2010-2011 when CSU went 24-10 and she won Great West Conference Coach of the Year accolades. She has endured losing, injury plagued seasons like last year when the Cougars were 6-24. And challenging, rebuilding campaigns like this year where they're off to a 1-5 start.
"We're experiencing a little bit of growing pains this season," Jackson said of her young squad that has ten underclassmen and just two seniors on the roster.
Jackson is CSU's all-time leader in coaching wins with 116 in her nine-year tenure. She attributes much of that success to the consistency of her coaching staff. Assistant coach Renalda Blackburn has coached for seven seasons, and Gwen Burton for ten.
"Any time you can have continuity in your staff is good thing. They know what I expect, and know what I'm teaching - the continuity is definitely a plus," Jackson said.
Another key to fielding a quality basketball team is getting the type of athletes that are a good fit with the program's philosophy. Jackson wants student/athletes that play hard and also study with equal enthusiasm.
"We want kids that take academics seriously," she said. "It's not OK to be a 2.0 student. If you're going to be average in the classroom then you're going to be average in everything else you do."
Chicago State women's basketball players have had an excellent graduation rate under Jackson's tenure, and 91 percent of her four-year players have earned their degrees. She stresses academics even for athletes who have the potential to play professionally.
"Obviously, even if we have women go on to pursue a professional career in basketball they're not going to make the money that the men do in the NBA. So women definitely have to have our degree to fall back on, that's something that we push in our program and that's very important to our program," Jackson said.
She also pushes her players to play hard on the court. There is a major adjustment to be made from high school to college hoops, and it's not for the meek.
"Basketball is physical - you expect for it to be physical," Jackson said. "I personally like for it to be physical - this is Division 1 and you've got to let kids make plays."
Recruiting is probably the biggest part of coaching that the public doesn't get a glimpse of, and encouraging a student to attend a particular institution can be challenging with so many options available.
Chicago State recruiting is even more challenging than many Division 1 schools because they don't have the name recognition of more high-profile programs. The South Side location and safety concerns can also be a deterrent to some potential recruits, but Jackson said CSU has proven to be a very safe place over the years.
"We not only have one of the safest campuses in the city, we have one of the safest campuses in the state of Illinois," she said.
"Chicago State is an excellent choice for a kid because you have Division 1 credentials plus you are close to home. We have beautiful facilitates and most importantly from an athletic perspective, we can win games here - we are a diamond in the rough," she said.
The campus has seen a resurgence over the past few years with several new academic and sports facilities.
"This is an exciting time at Chicago State," Jackson said. "The ages 18-23 are an important time in young women's lives and I like being that bridge between everything they have learned from their parents and everything they need to know to become successful young women - that's what's important to me. "
- Created on 06 December 2012
CHICAGO (AP) — Brandon Young scored 21 points, and a renewed defensive effort in the second half allowed DePaul to overcome a 14-point deficit Wednesday and beat Chicago State 74-64.
On the day Chicago State announced it will join the Western Athletic Conference in 2013, the Cougars nearly delivered an upset win against their crosstown foe. Chicago State (2-8) shot 53 percent in the first half, including 4 of 8 on 3-point attempts, to help build a 44-30 halftime lead.
DePaul (5-3) couldn't have played much worse in the first half. The Blue Demons committed 12 turnovers — finishing with 21 for the game — and shot only 30 percent from the field.
Chicago State went cold and put up an ugly shooting performance in the second half. The Cougars went 5 of 26 from the field and did not make a shot until Matt Ross' layup with 11:39 remaining.
- Created on 05 December 2012
CHICAGO (AP) — Paul George has found himself a new routine.
After laying a goose-egg his last time out, George scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to an 80-76 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.
Roy Hibbert added 10 points, 11 rebounds and a game-saving block for Indiana, which closed a four-game road trip with three victories.
The Bulls, who failed to win three straight for the first time this season, were able to keep David West, Indiana's leading scorer, in check — but George picked up the slack.
George scored 10 points in the first quarter, highlighted by a thunderous dunk as George Hill's 3-point attempt bounced up off the back of the rim. It was George's best performance since scoring a career-high 37 points Nov. 21 against New Orleans. George went scoreless Saturday at Golden State, missing all seven of his shots.
"I'm always my worst critic," George said. "When we got back, we had the day off and I knew that I needed to work. I headed over to the gym, put up 500 shots, mixed it up from floaters to mid-range to 3-pointers. That's something that's got to be a routine for me."
Up two points in the closing seconds, Hibbert was the recipient of a controversial no-call that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Luol Deng drove along the base line and was rejected by Hibbert, falling to the floor as West grabbed the rebound to send the Pacers back to the line to ice the game.
Hibbert stayed in Indiana over the summer to work on defense with his coaches. Coach Frank Vogel was ecstatic to see it pay off.
"You're allowed to jump straight up," Vogel explained. "No matter where you are, you're allowed to jump straight up and absorb contact."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau saw it differently.
"In my eyes, (Deng) got wiped out," Thibodeau said. "I'm not going to put it on the officials. We've still got to get it done. Tough call went against us."
Hibbert had little offensive impact in the first half, scoring two points, but used his size to take over in the third quarter when Indiana outscored Chicago 25-18. Then he put the game away with his defense.
"I do that all the time," Hibbert said about the play on Deng. "I jump straight up and take the contact. I play defense. That's my staple. If my offense isn't going, I always have to play defense. I want to make the all-defensive team this year."
Hibbert has blocked at least two shots in 12 straight games.
Nate Robinson fired up the crowd with a trio of baskets on successive possessions midway through the fourth quarter to give the Bulls their first lead since early in the third, but Chicago could not pull it out, thanks in part to 19 turnovers.
Robinson came off the bench and scored 19 points, and Carlos Boozer notched his seventh double-double in nine games with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago.
"Something we have to do is take care of the ball down the stretch," Robinson said. "For this loss, I definitely take the blame. Down the stretch I have to be smarter with the ball and make the right plays and execute."
Three of Robinson's four turnovers came in the fourth quarter.
West reached double-digits for a ninth straight game for Indiana, but his 10 points were a far cry from the 23 he had averaged over his last six games.
Indiana shot 31.6 percent from the floor in the first half, including 1 of 5 from behind the arc. The Pacers continued to struggle from long range, hitting 2 of 10 attempts, but tightened up inside, shooting over 40 percent in the second half.
Chicago shot 38.4 percent from the floor.
Both teams struggling from the field was little surprise, as Indiana (90.9 points allowed per game) and Chicago (94.4) came into the contest boasting two of the top-five defenses in the NBA.
Marco Belinelli scored six points with an assist and a turnover in his first start for Chicago, playing in place of the injured Richard Hamilton. Hamilton is out indefinitely after suffering a torn plantar fascia in his left foot during Saturday's 93-88 win over Philadelphia.
Hamilton's injury left the Bulls even thinner at the guard position, with former MVP Derrick Rose sidelined due to surgery in May to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
NOTES: Rose was seen shooting around at the United Center earlier Tuesday, but Thibodeau remained stalwart in his preseason resolution to avoid talking about Rose's rehab at length. "Derrick's focused on his rehab, we're focused on our improvement and our opponent. So he's doing fine," Thibodeau said. ... Vogel acknowledged F/C Tyler Hansbrough's struggle to adjust to decreased minutes. Hansbrough came in averaging just 6.5 points per game and went scoreless on Saturday against Golden State, missing all five field goal attempts. "He's got to figure it out," Vogel said.