Bears back from bye, Lions up next

Bears back from bye, Lions up next

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) While the Chicago Bears appreciate their place atop the NFC North standings, they know they won't enjoy the view for long unless some big changes occur on offense.

The Bears (4-1) had a bye over the weekend and took over the division lead because of Minnesota's 38-26 loss to the Washington Redskins.

``It's not bad - without playing, that's not bad,'' tight end Kellen Davis said Monday. ``You can't beat that really.''

Still, Detroit (2-3) and Green Bay (3-3) both won on Sunday, keeping the Bears from getting too excited about their half-game lead over the Vikings (4-2) as they began preparations for next Monday night's game against the Lions.

``It's a tough division,'' cornerback Tim Jennings said. ``It's going to be up and down, but once November, December hits, that's when teams start to get in stride and figure out who they are, try to identify themselves and get going for the playoffs.''

The Bears play only their second divisional game of the season against the Lions.

``Our division took a step up,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``But as I told the team today, none of that really matters for us. We like the position we're in. Any week you have to be ready to go to play your best football. That's what I saw from this weekend. Teams that played 60 minutes or more end up winning the football game. Detroit, this week ... I'm sure they've been waiting for this game for a long time.''

To stay where they are, the Bears offense has to come around both in the running and passing games to complement a defense that has been dominant.

The passing attack took a hit with the loss of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, reportedly to a fractured hand. The rookie has 14 catches, but the Bears will get wide receiver Earl Bennett back from a two-game absence due to a hand injury.

Bennett went through a full practice Monday and deemed himself fit.

``Those guys (teammates) are out there making plays, just having fun,'' Bennett said. ``We're winning and it's tough to sit back and just watch and not be a part of the fun.''

Even with Jeffery making 14 catches and wide receiver Brandon Marshall tied for ninth in the league with Detroit's Calvin Johnson at 35 catches, the Bears passing game ranks only 23rd (222.6 yards per game).

The running game had struggled until the Week 5 blowout win over Jacksonville, when running back Matt Forte went over the 100-yard mark for the first time since Nov. 7, 2011. The 214-yard team rushing effort in the Jacksonville win pushed the Bears up to 10th at 123.6 yards per game but didn't hide earlier inconsistency.

``We have to be solid in the run game,'' Davis said. ``We started up a little bit last week, got Matt over 100 and got 200 yards on the ground, which is big for us. So hopefully we'll shoot for getting him over 100 (against Detroit). We might not get 200, but that would be great too.''

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch


Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.


Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:


Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.



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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:


2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:


4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection: