Bears

Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

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Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

While its still early in the NBA season, there have been many surprises and one of the big ones has been the Orlando Magic.

Coming into Tuesday nights game against the Bulls, Orlando led the league in three-point field goal percentage (.538), was second in scoring (108) and had won their first two games by a margin of 17 points.

After losing franchise cornerstone, Dwight Howard, along with coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, most believed the Magic would be one of the worst teams in the league, if not the worst.

Leading the way for them has been Glen Big Baby Davis, who is averaging a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds per game.

While those numbers may catch many off guard, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isnt one of them, having coached and seen Davis mature during his time as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.

It doesnt surprise me, Thibodeau said of Davis production. Hes shown throughout his career hes more than capable. Hes been in a number of big games before. Hes started games, come off the bench. There was the one season in Boston where Kevin Garnett got hurt, Davis started and scored big. So I know how good he is as a player.

The Magic fell to the Bulls 99-93 Tuesday, but Davis finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

He credits his time in Boston for helping shape the player he is today, and credits Thibodeau with helping shape the mindset hes developed.

Just the mentality of perfection, said Davis. You cant be perfect but you can strive to be perfect. He did that in everything he did. Defensively, from the way he approached the game, long hours and nights of watching film on tendencies of players, what to do and what not to do.

"You pick that up as a youngster if you want to do well and if you want to succeed. Just his ins and outs of the game, especially after winning that championship in 2008, to see how good we were defensively because of his mentality and the way he approached every game. I learned a lot from him.

Its in knowing Thibodeaus mentality and pursuit of perfection why Davis doesnt see the Bulls being far from where they have been the past two years. Even without having Derrick Rose for most of the season.

I dont see them taking a step back, says Davis. I just see guys on their team having to step up. Guys just have to do a little bit more because Derrick Rose did a lot for that team. Guys like Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah are guys that can really play the game at a high level.

"They have to do a little bit more to get wins. With Thibodeaus mindset, theyre going to play defense, but on the offensive end, knowing how to score and finding a way to score without Rose, theyre going to have to play as a team.

Whether or not Davis and the Magic can continue building on an impressive start remains to be seen. And when asked on that thought, Davis echoes phrases derived straight from the mind of Thibodeau.

Im just looking forward to taking things one day at a time and making sure that I walk the walk.

Packers at Bears odds: Betting line has Chicago as nearly touchdown favorite

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Packers at Bears odds: Betting line has Chicago as nearly touchdown favorite

Las Vegas has come around on the Bears since the last time they played the Green Bay Packers.

Back in Week 1, the betting line opened with the Packers favored by a full nine points. Even after the Khalil Mack trade, the line spread only moved to 7.5.

Even in a heartbreaking loss, Chicago covered the spread, and oddsmakers have really come around on Matt Nagy and company.

Coming off of a huge victory over the Los Angeles Rams, the Bears are favored by six points over the Packers for Week 15, according to Vegas Insider.

The spread opened at Chicago minus five and has trended in their direction ever since.

The point total for the game has gone down since opening at 46.5, with the over/under now at 45 points.

The total has hit the over in seven of the last 10 Bears games, but last week’s low-scoring game against the Rams could be cause for concern.

Strange things tend to happen in Bears-Packers matchups, but Las Vegas is much more confident in Chicago the second time around.

Bulls trip to Mexico a much-needed diversion

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Bulls trip to Mexico a much-needed diversion

After a drama-filled first eight days under the leadership of new head coach Jim Boylen, maybe a trip to Mexico City is exactly what's needed for the 6-22 Bulls.

With all the reports of player unrest, a potential practice boycott and the formation of a players' leadership group, maybe a team dinner in a warm climate is the perfect recipe for reducing tension.

Of course, both the Bulls and Magic will have to adjust to playing at the mile-high altitude in Mexico City Thursday night. The Bulls' players are hoping to get their legs back after last week's training camp-style practices. They played well in the first half against Sacramento on Monday, running out to a 56-45 lead. But the Bulls looked stuck in the mud the rest of the way, getting outscored 63-33 in the 2nd half on the way to a 108-89 loss, their third in four games under Boylen's direction.

The Magic have also struggled lately after getting off to a good start that currently has them in the eighth playoff position in the East. Orlando has dropped seven of its last 10 games, the latest a 101-76 haymaker at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

The Magic are led by free agent to be Nikola Vucevic, who's averaging 20.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Aaron Gordon got the big contract he was looking for as a restricted free agent last summer and he's having a decent season, but not what the front office was hoping for after paying him close to 80 million dollars over the next 4 years.

Former Bulls guard D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant are running the point for Orlando. Augustin has started all 27 games so far and he's been decent, averaging 10.1 points and 5.1 assists, while Grant has chipped in 4 points and 3 assists in just under 20 minutes of action off the bench.

Orlando is also getting solid production from wing players Evan Fournier and Terrance Ross, but much like the Bulls, their future is about the development of recent top 10 picks Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. Both have been inconsistent so far, and both need to add strength to be able to deal with all the physical contact in the paint. Unless one or both develop into a top tier post player, the Magic's grand rebuilding plan will fall apart pretty quickly.

Still, Orlando is 12-15 at this point which is about where the Bulls figured to be if they hadn't suffered so many injuries at the start of the season. It will be interesting to see which direction each of these teams go now that the Bulls have everyone back except for Denzel Valentine. Of course, trades could change the composition of both rosters with players like Vucevic, Fournier, Ross, Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez all of potential interest to contending teams.

Here's what it will take for the Bulls to get into the win column on Thursday.

1. Sustained effort. As my former studio partner, the late, great Norm Van Lier used to say, "I need 48 minutes of intensity." The Bulls gave Jim Boylen 24 minutes on Monday, with Zach LaVine throwing down a monstrous hammer dunk to punctuate his 12 point, 5-6 shooting first half effort. Whether it was tired legs from all the extra practice time or poor execution, the Bulls were done in by a turnover-filled second half. They'll need to find a way to avoid the nightmare quarters that have cost them a chance at several wins this season.

2. Limit second-chance points. Orlando has plenty of size with Vucevic, Gordon and Isaac in the starting lineup and Bamba coming off the bench. The Bulls' big men have to focus on boxing out and not allowing the Magic to get multiple shot opportunities. Robin Lopez played well in the first half on Monday, then didn't see the floor after intermission. His size will be important in this game.

3. More from Dunn and Portis. Both players showed encouraging signs in their first game since late October, combining for 14 points and 8 rebounds in the opening half against Sacramento. Best of all, they showed no hesitation in going all out following their rehabs from knee sprains. Dunn should return to the starting lineup soon where his ability to penetrate will lead to easier shots for Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Portis can provide instant offense off the bench, something that's been sorely lacking for most of the season.

Don't forget you can watch Thursday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and MyTeams by NBC Sports app. Sticking with the Mexico City theme, we'll be doing the preame show live on location from Harbee Liquor and Tavern in the Pilsen neighborhood, 1345 W. 18th St. If you're going to be in the area, come on out and say hello to Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Horace Grant and myself. Pregame coverage begins at 8 p.m., with the play-by-play call from Neil Funk and Stacey King at 8:30, followed by Bulls Postgame Live and Bulls Outsiders.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.