Bulls

A game of missed chances for the Bears

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A game of missed chances for the Bears

Going for it on fourth down instead of kicking the field goal, which likely wouldve been good considering Robbie Goulds prowess. Coach Lovie Smith made that choice early in the second quarter, when the Bears were up 7-0.

In hindsight, Smith admits he shouldve chosen the latter.

The Bears couldnt convert that fourth-and-1 early in the game, and a dropped pass by a wide-open Earl Bennett later also proved costly in the Bears 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. If youre into playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game, the Bears coulda had a decent lead at the half. Instead they were down 10-7.

And it could have started with that field-goal attempt the Bears didnt take.

We should have taken the field goal, Smith said. It felt like we had momentum. (I) wanted to really try to knock them out and get them on their heels a little bit. That was a big play in the game.

It was, and it was one that the Seahawks didnt let the Bears get. Seattles defense stopped Michael Bush at the 15-yard line, inches short of the first down. It wouldve been a 32-yard field goal attempt for Gould, who is 72-of-79 (91.1 percent) in the 30- to 39-yard range for his career.

Still, Smith also believed the Bears shouldve picked up those scant few inches on fourth down.

If youre going to win and be able to get in the playoffs and play good football at this time in the season, youve got to be able to pick it (up) and pick up a forth-and-short like that, he said. Every time a decision doesnt work out, I look at it and think that. Would I do it again? Probably so. Again, youve got to be able to get those fourth-and-shorts.

Bears center Roberto Garza said that fell to his group.

Obviously on that fourth-and-short, it is on the offensive line. We have to be able to convert that, Garza said. Its unacceptable. We get that, we get points and its a different story. We definitely left opportunities on the field and we have to do a better job.

The Bears had another chance to get points later, when a wide-open Bennett couldnt hold onto Jay Cutlers deep pass to him. Cutler said, I spun (Bennett) around a little bit and it was tough to catch. Hes going to say that he should have had it.

Bennett was flipped up and around on his touchdown catch early in the game. That play also may have led to the concussion that kept him out the second half.

The missed opportunities left the Bears scrambling for a late field goal to send the game to overtime. But one long Seahawks drive against a tired Bears defense later, the squandered chances really loomed large.

We shouldnt have been in that position, Cutler said. We had a fourth down early in the game, Earl Bennett dropped one and in the four-minute drive I fumbled the ball; things like that. In a game like this with two really good defenses going at it, one plan can swing the game. Offensively, we shouldve done a better job and not put ourselves in that position.

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

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USA TODAY

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

On Saturday NBA Cares, jr. NBA, EA Sports, Wendell Carter Jr., Complex and artist Hebru Brantley teamed up to renovate the  MetCalfePark basketball court in honor of slain teenager Darius Brown, who was fatally shot and killed on August 3, 2011. 

The court was re-designed with Brantley's FlyBoy character as the centerpiece.

The FlyBoy character represents “hope and optimism that makes people believe that no matter where they are from, no matter what their circumstances, anything is possible."

The event hosted by NBA Cares—and also a part of Complex Community Week—featured Wendell Carter Jr. conversing with the kids and helping "Slam Dunking Science Teacher "Jonathan Clark with an awesome dunking display for the kids. 

Metcalfe Park's (43rd State) new look is amazing and the FlyBoy image serves as the perfect image for the court.

As Hebru Brantley states, "FlyBoy is about taking flight and believing in yourself enough to reach your true potential."

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.

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

Consider the Cubs’ starting middle infield in Saturday’s 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres to be comprised of two extremes. 

On one end of the spectrum was Addison Russell, who started at second base. Russell was doubled off second base on an Albert Almora line drive in the second inning — a ball hit hard enough where, had it fell in for a hit, he wouldn’t have scored. There was no spinning Russell drifting far enough off second base to be doubled up; it was simply bad baserunning. 

Russell, too, was thrown out at home on an Almora ground ball in the fourth inning. He appeared to lose a pop fly in the sun, too, which fell in for a double in the third inning. 

Manager Joe Maddon was willing to excuse the pop-up double — “The sun ball, there’s nothing you could do about that,” he said — but sounded frustrated with Russell’s far-too-frequent baserunning gaffes. 

“He’s gotta straighten some things out,” Maddon said. “He has to. There’s no question. I’m not going to stand here — he’s got to, we’ve talked about his baserunning in the past. 

“… The baserunning, there’s some things there — we’re making too many outs on the bases and we’re missing things on the bases that we can’t to be an elite team.”

Russell’s mistakes were part of a larger sloppy showing by both teams. As Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler put it: “No lead was safe. It was really just who was going to survive and not make so many mistakes.”

Javier Baez ensured the Cubs would survive by not merely avoiding mistakes, but by coming up with two massive plays. 

Baez’s three-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Cubs’ the lead for good, and he fell a triple short of the cycle. He’s homered in consecutive games, and Maddon senses the 26-year-old is emerging from a slump that dropped his OPS to .853 after Wednesday’s game, his lowest mark since the small-sample-size landscape of mid-April. 

But it was Baez’s masterful tag in the bottom of the ninth inning that captured most of the attention around Wrigley Field, reminding everyone in the dugouts and stands just how incredible “El Mago” can be. 

Craig Kimbrel walked Wil Myers to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and after budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. inexplicably bunted (he popped out), Myers took off to steal second base. Kimbrel sailed a fastball high and inside, and Victor Caratini’s throw was well to the left of second base. Myers appeared to have the base stolen until Baez gloved the ball and rapidly snapped a tag onto Myers’ left leg:

”We needed a play made, and he made it,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s what he does.”

Baez’s home run increased the Cubs’ win expectancy by 35.7 percent; his tag on Myers upped it that mark from 83.3 percent to 96.5 percent. This is why the Cubs’ mantra, even when Baez is in a lull, is to let Javy be Javy. 

One player can’t carry a team forever — Baez had his best season as a pro in 2018, only to see the Cubs crash out of the Wild Card game, of course. But it’s hard to not think about the kind of plays Baez can conjure up when the Cubs need them the most in 2019’s playoff race. 

After all, stuff like that tag on Myers — the Cubs have come to expect that from Baez. 

“You saw a lot of plays today, they weren’t baseball plays,” Maddon said. “The game is clamoring for baseball players who know how to play this game, and he’s one. He is one. He’s got the biggest hard drive, the most RAM, he’s got everything going on every day. 

“He sees things, he’s got great vision. Technically, he’s a tremendous baseball player. He’s going to make some mistakes, like everyone else does, but what he sees and sees in advance — it’s like the best running back, it’s the best point guard you’ve ever seen. It’s all of that. As a shortstop, that’s what he is.

“… We needed him to be that guy today and he was. And again, it’s not overtly surprising.”