Bears

Blazers rookie Lillard rankles Bulls with last-second dunk

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Blazers rookie Lillard rankles Bulls with last-second dunk

PORTLANDPrior to his teams loss to the Trail Blazers, Bulls head coach was practically gushing over Portland rookie point guard Damian Lillard, a strong early-season Rookie of the Year candidate.

Very impressive. His skill set makes him very hard to guard. His ability to shoot the ball sets everything up. Very clever in the pick-and-roll. Plays with a lot of poise for a rookie, Thibodeau evaluated. Hes taking seven threes a game and if he gets a clean look at it, its always a very good shot, so that sets up the drive, and when you add in Aldridge and Batum and Matthews, its a very explosive team.

The young floor general, the sixth overall pick in Junes NBA Draft out of tiny Weber State, has indeed opened up his eyes with his play this season, showing the ability to step up in the clutch, run a team at a high level, knock down shots and get into the lane and finish. Lillard finished with 16 points Sunday evening, but it was his final two that raised a mild controversy.

With the game already in hand following the Bulls last-gasp comeback, the point guard took the ball in for a two-handed dunk with 0.9 seconds on the clock. Afterwards, he was confronted by Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, who werent too pleased with his display of showmanship, which many perceive to unsportsmanlike in NBA circles.

It is what is, Thibodeau said about the play.

Asked if he spoke to Lillard, Noah responded, Yeah, but its a non-issue. Its okay.

Gibson, however, was more forthcoming about the incident.

Lillard didnt say anything. He was making a scene out of nothing. He made a dunk, and me and Joakim just addressed it like, In the future, youve just got to be smarter. A lot of teams are not going to let you do that, and Trail Blazers forward Jared Jeffries just came up and told me the same thing, that I was right, he explained. But it wasnt anything more than that. I was just like, You cant do that. Youve got to be smart.

Bulls backup point guard Nate Robinson, who shares an agency with Lillard, was also on the court and talked to Lillard, who hes previously reached out to as a veteran dispensing advice.

I just told him, Thats not the right play, dog. Just dribble the ball out. You all have got the victory already, stuff like that. Everybody around the league watches that. That pisses people off. Youre losing already, then youre going to finish it off with the dunk at the end. Thats how, you could say, flagrant fouls and things like that happen. You dont want anything like that to happen to anybody in the league, where guys kind of hold grudges about things like that.

But its a part of basketball. It happens. Its not a big deal, but its just something that you dont, Robinson recounted. I just told him, Thats not the right play, dog. You had a good game, just dribble it out and then, we go on our way. Take our L like a man.

Under Center Podcast: What's the Bears' ceiling this year?

Under Center Podcast: What's the Bears' ceiling this year?

After the Bears' statement-making 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, Laurence Holmes, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte and Alex Brown sat down to talk about how far they think the Bears can go this season. They also debate whether they trust kicker Cody Parkey after a 3-3 performance, and look ahead to Thanksgiving Day's matchup with the Lions. 

You can listen to the entire podcast right here, or in the embedded player below. 

Cody Parkey’s bounce-back game reveals something important about the 2018 Bears

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USA Today

Cody Parkey’s bounce-back game reveals something important about the 2018 Bears

 Cody Parkey, of course, noticed the two news helicopters hovering over Soldier Field Wednesday night. Maybe they added a little bit of pressure to his kicking practice session four days before he connected on all three of his field goal tries — including a game-clinching 48-yarder — in the Bears’ 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. 
 
Or maybe the literal hovering over his every move didn’t affect him at all. 
 
“They just added a little extra wind for me,” Parkey quipped. 
 
Parkey’s confidence in himself didn’t waver after he missed four field goal attempts off an upright a week ago, even if the rest of Chicago might’s lost faith in their team’s kicker. While Matt Nagy framed his calling of a pair of two-point conversion attempts after the Bears’ two touchdowns Sunday as wanting to be aggressive (“we just felt like we had some good stuff down there in that area,” he said), perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence it came a week after his kicker missed two PATs. 
 
But Nagy’s confidence in Parkey was there when he called on him for that 48-yard field goal with a little under three minutes remaining in, at the time, an eight-point game. Had Parkey missed the kick, Minnesota would’ve taken over possession in optimal field position to drive downfield and tie the game. 
 
Instead, Parkey nailed the kick, and nearly the entire Bears’ sideline rushed onto the field to celebrate with him. 
 
“Parkey’s a dog, man,” outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “Practice makes perfect. He’s a great kicker and I’m glad he got back to showing it.”
 
“You support your guys,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “There’s always going to be people out there that are hard on you that can never do what you do. I think that’s he’s handled it very well. Very respectful, very humble about it, and he came out tonight and he played one of his best games for us.”
 
“We all believed in him in the locker room,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “There was never a doubt. That happens week to week in the NFL. But we just continue to come together closer as a team, support our guys, have each other's back. I'm happy for Cody. He was big time tonight. He definitely delivered for this team and put some points on the board when we needed them. They were crucial, and he did a heck of a job.”
 
And cornerback Prince Amukamara: “We knew that he had a tough time last week and was very hard on himself. For him to hit the first one and hit the last one, we knew how huge that was and he crushed it. He ended up breaking us down at the end right here. And that goes with what I've been saying all year, we have genuine love for each other and guys celebrate others' success."
 
That last point is important. The Bears have a certain positive spirit in their team, one instilled by Nagy that permeates every corner of Halas Hall. How often do you see so many players sprint off the sideline to celebrate with their kicker after he hits a field goal that isn’t a game-winner? 
 
“That was pretty cool,” Parkey said. “Obviously they saw me down last week and they picked me up. I think that’s just really special about this team and it shows how close we are.”