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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
C.J. Watson terrific filling in for Rose

By Nick Friedell

CHICAGO -- C.J. Watson readily admits that his left elbow, which he dislocated just over two weeks ago, still hurts. But the Chicago Bulls veteran point guard is sick of watching the action.

"I'm tired of sitting on the bench," he said after pouring in 23 points in Tuesday night's 118-97 win over the Phoenix Suns. "I don't have any more suits, so I've got to get on the court someday."

CJ Watson
C.J. Watson will pick up his game like he has all season when Rose has been out.
After playing well in place of the injured Derrick Rose on Monday afternoon against the Memphis Grizzlies, Watson followed it up by starting on Tuesday, playing 33 minutes with an elbow that is clearly still bothering him.

"[Coach Tom Thibodeau] asked me before shootaround how many minutes I thought I could play," Watson said. "And I told him, ‘I don't know. Just play me as much as you can.’ "

Thibodeau obviously took that instruction to heart, leaving Watson in for the bulk of the game. Watson was able to create his own shot and find the open look for his teammates, a fact that each one of them went out of his way to point out.

"He was awesome. He was great. C.J. did a great job," Bulls guard Richard Hamilton said. "He got guys in the spots they needed to be. He ran our offense and when he was open he took the shot."

Watson has admitted several times in the past year that he has been frustrated playing behind Rose, but he has always handled himself properly around his teammates. They respect the fact that he goes about his business and doesn't complain about his role. He accepts it and tries to get better.

"It's crazy tough [to be in that situation]," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "Look how good he's been playing. He played great [Monday] off the bench, to the point where Thibs was like, ‘I got to go and start this guy with D. Rose being out.’ He came back tonight and had another great game. That's the thing about it, though. C.J.'s been a great player his whole career. He's always played behind guys that were very good. It's tough playing behind the MVP this year ... He leads our Bench Mob when we've got a full roster. He's a very good pro to say the least."

Watson gained even more respect in the locker room for the way he attacked his rehab. Thibodeau pointed out that Watson's conditioning was on-point, despite the fact that he really hasn't been able to practice with his team.

As usual, Watson seems to be taking the right approach.

"Just try to take it for what it's worth," he said. "I know it's going to be a lot of pain still, but I'm just trying to wear it down til it's 100 percent."