The Dallas Cowboys were embarrassed in their Thanksgiving showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles, but before getting another crack at their division rivals next week, they must first take care of business against the Chicago Bears.
Dallas head on the road looking to amend what they hope was just a hiccup to end their two-game winning streak.
“No excuses,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey said. “We just got to get better. Sometimes it’s good to get a good old fashioned butt-kicking to get you going again.”
Fortunately for Dallas, they’re on the road, where they’ve enjoyed unparalleled success this year. At 5-0 away from AT&T Stadium, they hold by far the league’s best road record and only unbeaten mark.
“I think, for me, I think that turns me on a little bit – to come into someone’s house and hear the boos and all that,” Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray said. “I think it’s a great thing.”
After getting ripped apart by running back LeSean McCoy to the tune of 159 rushing yards in the loss to the Eagles, Dallas face a similarly tough challenge in containing Chicago’s Matt Forte.
The Bears’ versatile runner leads all backs in the league with 78 receptions and 650 receiving yards, making for a dangerous two-way weapon. “He’s almost half of their offense if you put it all together,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
“Very versatile, very productive, and they use him really well – similar to what Philly does in using their backs a lot of different ways.
“So you know I think teams who do this challenge you and you have to make sure to be on the screws in defending it.”
Though they’re essentially out of playoff contention in a rough season, Chicago have continued to play hard and have won two of their past three games.
“I think with the guys we have and character and integrity of the guys, I don’t think anybody’s going to quit,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “I think the coaches won’t let us, they’re not going to quit on us.”
Oklahoma City Thunder 104 – 112 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant, sidelined since October after surgery to repair a broken right foot, scored 27 points in his NBA season debut, a loss at New Orleans. Tyreke Evans scored a game-high 30 points, Anthony Davis added 25 points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Anderson came off the bench to score 23 points for the Pelicans. Durant played 30 minutes and hit 9-of-18 shots from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He grabbed three rebounds, passed off two assists and gave away five turnovers.
Indiana Pacers 99 – 116 Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix double-point guard combination of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe reminded everyone just how good they can be together. Dragic scored 34 points, Bledsoe had 27 and the Suns beat Indiana 116-99 for their fourth straight victory over the Pacers.The Suns' guards, who are getting more time together on the court with Isaiah Thomas out with an injury, combined for 22-for-35 shooting. Dragic matched his season high for a game with 22 first-half points, and Bledsoe scored 21 in the second half.
Toronto Raptors 117 – 109 Sacramento Kings
Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and made a pivotal jumper with 57 seconds left to lift the Raptors over the Sacramento Kings 117-109 on Tuesday. Terrence Ross matched his season high with 20 points and reserve James Johnson added 19 points and seven rebounds. Six players scored in double figures for the East-leading Raptors, who had lost two in a row.
Dallas Mavericks 132 – 129 Chicago Bulls
Monta Ellis finished with 38 points – including the go-ahead three-pointer with 39 seconds left in the second overtime – as Dallas edged the Chicago Bulls 132-129 at the United Center. Chandler Parsons added 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to earn the Mavericks a fourth straight win. Pau Gasol led the Bulls with 29 points and 14 rebounds in a topsy-turvy encounter which saw the lead change hands 14 times.
Portland Trail Blazers 105 – 103 Denver Nuggets
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 39 points and set up the winning basket with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 105-103 win over the Denver Nuggets. Aldridge also had 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double in six games. Lillard scored 17 points, and Wesley Matthews added 15. Ty Lawson led Denver with 24 points and 13 assists on the second night of a back-to-back.
Orlando Magic 97 – 98 Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry's late three-pointer handed the Golden State Warriors a dramatic 98-97 NBA victory over the Orlando Magic at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night. Curry sank the go-ahead basket with 2.2 seconds left on the clock to give the Warriors their 10th straight win. He finished with 22 points and five assists.
Milwaukee Bucks 108 – 111 Celveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving scored 28 points and Kevin Love added 27 to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their fourth consecutive NBA victory, a 111-108 triumph Tuesday over Milwaukee. Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James joined his "Big Three" partners with 26 points and a game-high 10 assists while Love grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds as the Cavaliers improved to 9-7. Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 27 points while Jabari Parker added 22 as Milwaukee fell to 10-9.
With a mix of young stars and pro-ven veterans, the Washington Wizards have impressed through the first month of the season.
Washington, who sit second in the Eastern Conference at 11-5, had one of their most complete performances in a 107-86 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night.
After coming out of the gates strong and building a 15-point cushion at half-time, the Wizards put the game away in the fourth quarter with the bench doing much of the damage.
“Probably our best game, from start to finish,” said Washington coach Randy Wittman.
Point guard John Wall had his fingerprints all over the win as the offensive catalyst, tying a season-high with 13 assists to go with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The 24-year-old has seen his scoring slightly drop from 19.3 points per game last season to his current mark of 18.2, but he’s been a floor general and has got his team-mates involved, averaging a career-best 9.3 assists.
“For us to be successful, he doesn’t have to score 30,” said Polish centre Marcin Gortat, who recorded his seventh double-double against Miami with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“He’s got the ball in his hands so many times that he can go for 30 any night, but that’s not the point. He’s got to create for everybody else and he did a tremendous, tremendous job.”
Wall’s ball movement has been infectious as Washington rank fourth in the NBA in assists per game with 24.7.
They’ve also been one of the stingier defences, allowing an average of 96.0 points, good for sixth-best in the league.
That defence was on display against the Heat, who they held to 36 points in the paint and just 2-of-22 (9.1 per cent) from long range.
Last season, the Wizards finished their campaign 44-38 before falling in the second round of the playoffs. They flashed potential, but in the offseason, they bolstered the squad with acquisitions of key veterans Paul Pierce, Andre Miller, Kris Humphries and Rasual Butler.
The mix of experience and youth has gelled well so far and Washington look like they’ve taken another step forward.
“Nobody cares who gets the credit,” Pierce said. “That’s a real team right there, and that’s what you’re seeing over here with the Washington Wizards.”