- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wednesday night was a different story.
Starting in place of the injured Deron Williams (inflammation in both ankles) for a second straight game, Watson notched season highs in both points (25) and assists (six) in 36 minutes as the Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 119-108.
"When one of your key guys is out, I think it really motivates guys to really step up and play a little harder," said Joe Johnson, who had 26 points and nine assists of his own. "Guys that really haven't played as much tend to come in and play big minutes and be successful."
In his previous four games, Watson was 2-for-20 from the field -- including an 0-for-7 showing on Monday night in Indiana -- and averaged 14 minutes. But he shot 8-for-12 on Wednesday and hit a career-high five 3-pointers.
Watson's backup, rookie Tyshawn Taylor, added six points, four assists and three rebounds in 16 minutes.
"I thought they both played well both nights, C.J. and Tyshawn. Tyshawn was borderline unbelievable in Indiana and C.J. did the same thing tonight, which was great," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "So, going forward, that's going to help us even more, to see people step up."
Said Watson: "I think we were just making open shots. Joe was getting double-teamed for the most part. We were just swinging the ball and knocking down 3-point shots."
NEXT STOP, HOUSTON: Brook Lopez said he's "excited" to participating in his first All-Star Game.
"It's a huge honor and I just can't wait to get out there," said Lopez, who capped off a great first half by scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds on Wednesday night.
ORDINARY JOE? Prior to this season, Johnson had played in every All-Star Game since 2006-07.
This time, however, he'll get to relax and really enjoy the break.
"I'm probably just gonna go back home and rest up and hang out with some family and friends," Johnson said. "It'll be a little different."
4dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo