Bears

Kobe calls for changes to the struggling Lakers

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Kobe calls for changes to the struggling Lakers

From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- Kobe Bryant couldn't restrain himself after this one.It wasn't just that the Lakers lost again. It was how they did it, where they did it, and he was simply seething.He even put out a call to ditch Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo style and post up more after Pau Gasol got moved into a reserve role."We're going to have to look at some things," Bryant said after Los Angeles lost 95-83 at Chicago on Monday. "We're going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That's just my intuition, but that's my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we're definitely going to have to change something."Kirk Hinrich scored a season-high 22 points, Marco Belinelli added 15 points, and the Bulls pulled away down the stretch to beat the struggling Lakers.Belinelli came up big in the closing minutes, scoring eight points during an 18-4 run that broke a 75-75 tie and sent the Lakers to their ninth loss in 11 games.He started it by hitting two free throws after getting fouled by Dwight Howard with 6:54 left in the game and wrapped two 3-pointers around a layup by Los Angeles' Earl Clark, making it 89-79 with 2:27 remaining.The Lakers have now dropped six straight on the road, and this one came after D'Antoni made that lineup switch. He replaced Gasol with Clark, but the slide continued on a night when Bryant and Howard were mostly nonfactors."Very, very tough, very, very frustrating, trying to keep my cool," Bryant said. "It is embarassing. It is not even embarassing. I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you're in the house of MJ, Pippen, PJ (Phil Jackson) built, to put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable."Hinrich hit 9 of 11 shots and nailed three 3-pointers. Belinelli and Nate Robinson (11 points) also hit three, and the Bulls were 9 of 17 overall from long range.Joakim Noah added 13 rebounds and a season-best six blocks after sitting out the final 22 minutes, 53 seconds of Saturday's loss to Memphis. He blamed himself for the benching the other night, saying, "That was all me."Noah was angry at coach Tom Thibodeau for taking him out of the game and acknowledged saying some things he should not have. He wouldn't say if he and Thibodeau discussed the incident, but he made it clear he had no one to blame but himself."I admit it," he said. "It was my fault. I shouldn't have said the things that I said."Carlos Boozer chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds. Richard Hamilton scored 13, although he shot just 6 of 18. Jimmy Butler, making his second straight start with Luol Deng (sore right hamstring) sidelined, scored 10 while trying to guard Bryant. And Chicago won this one in regulation after playing three straight overtime games.Steve Nash led the Lakers with 18 points, but Bryant finished with just 16 on 7-of-22 shooting. That ended a run of 24 games with 20 or more points."Most of the looks I had tonight were tough shots," Bryant said. "Some of the credit goes to the young fellow, Butler did a good defensively. A lot of that is on me and us, having to try to manufacture something 30 feet from the hoop with a low shot clock is tough."Howard, meanwhile, had just eight points and nine rebounds while picking up five fouls. Clark and Metta World Peace scored 12 apiece, and Gasol added 15 points and 12 rebounds in his new reserve role.D'Antoni made the switch because he wanted a quicker lineup. Even so, it was an eye-opening move, considering Gasol scored 25 at Toronto on Sunday."It isn't against him, it's better for us right now," D'Antoni said before the game. "We're going to try to work through it and see what we can do. Things do change, things happen, I can't see the future but we're ready to go forward."Clearly, Gasol wasn't thrilled by the switch. He said he's "not excited" about it, and the move caught him off guard. He's not sure about his future in Los Angeles, either."I have no idea," he said. "I can't really worry about something that is out of my hands so I am just going to stay positive and do my best, but it is not something I am too thrilled about. I wasn't expecting it. But right now we have bigger things to worry about as a group. As a team player that's what I'm most concern about."NOTES:Thibodeau said star PG Derrick Rose is "very close" to starting full contact drills in practice, the next step in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Could it happen this week? "Yeah -- it could," Thibodeau said. Is it scheduled to happen this week? Thibodeau said, "It could." He also said Rose will have to go through full-contact drills "for an extended amount of time" and that he won't be playing after "one or two days of contact."

Expectations continue to be high for Bears running back David Montgomery

Expectations continue to be high for Bears running back David Montgomery

The importance of second-year running back David Montgomery's development in 2020 will be overshadowed (rightfully so) by the Chicago Bears' quarterback competition this summer, but regardless of who opens the season as the starter, they'll need a reliable and steady running game to bring Matt Nagy's offense to Level 202, albeit a year late.

Montgomery flashed a lot to get excited about as a rookie. His 'want to' was undeniable, even when running lanes were few and far between. He was relentless in his effort, even on short gains, which suggests he has the potential to be one of the league's most productive running backs if he gets even a little bit of help from his offensive line.

And that's why he was one of the players identified as a Year 2 breakout candidate by NFL.com.

"[Montgomery] had a solid rookie season (889 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns)," Jeffery Chahida wrote, "but he's capable of so much more with a better offense. The Bears ranked 29th in the NFL in total offense last year, largely because embattled quarterback Mitch Trubisky struggled so mightily. That all could change if Nick Foles wins the job or simply pushes Trubisky to play at a higher level.

"Montgomery now enters this season as the only back on this roster who attempted more than 64 rushes last year, and the Bears didn't add another ball carrier in this draft. In other words, it's time for him to shine."

The Bears are taking a calculated risk betting on Montgomery as much as they have. Ryan Pace has gone all-in on the former third-round pick. If Montgomery fails, there are no realistic options on the roster to replace him. Tarik Cohen is who he is at this point — an offensive weapon who needs touches more than just carries. 

Ryan Nall? Artavis Pierce? Napoleon Maxwell?

Chicago's running back depth reads more like a practice squad roster than a group of players who can legitimately contribute on Sundays.

Assuming Montgomery stays healthy and Chicago doesn't add another running back over the next couple of months, he'll challenge to lead the league in carries in 2020. Last year's league-leader, Derrick Henry, carried the ball 303 times (an average of 19 times per game). Montgomery should easily hit that mark if the Bears are at least competitive this season.

If these numbers come to fruition, Montgomery will be more than just a Year 2 breakout player. He'll be a legitimate candidate to be the NFL's leading rusher.

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Bears' quarterback depth chart ranked near bottom of NFL

Bears' quarterback depth chart ranked near bottom of NFL

The Chicago Bears' fast approaching quarterback competition between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles will be the headline story throughout training camp, but does it matter all that much who wins the job?  Whether it's Foles or Trubisky, there isn't much excitement for the Bears around the league regardless of who lines up behind center.

This sentiment is painfully obvious in a recent ranking of every team's quarterback depth chart. The combination of Trubisky and Foles ranked near the bottom of the NFL at No. 28.

The Chicago Bears seemed to finally admit their Mitchell Trubisky mistake, though they did so in a roundabout way, by acquiring Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But Chicago smartly couldn't go with Trubisky and nothing else again. Last year, Trubisky completed 63.2 percent of his passes with just 17 touchdowns over 15 games as the Bears regressed from 12 wins to 8-8. He also posted a bottom-three QBR at 39.5.

The oddity is Foles as the solution. While he has past experience with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and some obvious postseason success, he's only completed 61.9 percent of his passes in his career, hasn't handled a full-time starting gig since 2015 and played in just four games last year.

The stats confirm a painful reality: aside from one miraculous Super Bowl season in Philadelphia, Foles, for the most part, has been Trubisky-like as a starting quarterback. Furthermore, Trubisky offers a more exciting skill set than Foles as a runner, which means if all things are equal as passers and game managers, shouldn't Trubiusky get the nod?

The winner of the Bears' quarterback competition won't have a long leash, no matter who it is. If Trubisky or Foles gets off to a slow start, it's conceivable they can be benched by Week 2. And then the worst-case-scenario unfolds in Chicago: a weekly quarterback controversy centered around two players who aren't good enough to lead the Bears to the promised land.

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