Injured Watson tagging along for Bulls' road trip

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Injured Watson tagging along for Bulls' road trip

AUBURN HILLS, MICH. Despite suffering a painful elbow injury in the Bulls 40-point home-opening win over the Grizzlies on Sunday, backup point guard C.J. Watson is with the team on its current road trip.

Id rather be here with my teammates. Id rather be here cheering them on, be with the team, just being around the players, said Watson, who will do cardiovascular work and ride an exercise bike while his left arm is in a sling to maintain a semblance of fitness. Theres not a better feeling than being around your teammates and being around the game you love.

Before the Bulls' game against the Pistons Wednesday, head coach Tom Thibodeau lauded Watson's devotion to the team.

"You saw the injury. He is tough. He's anxious to get back," said Thibodeau. "He's such a big part of the team. I like having him around. I think it's important for him mentally to be on top of what we're doing."

The injury was certainly a setback for the Bulls, who will turn to third-string point guard John Lucas III in his absence and will also lean on swingman Ronnie Brewer for additional ballhandling duties, but will most likely increase starter Derrick Roses minutes in close-game situations. But Watson had been playing well early in the season, dishing out nine assists in the Bulls win at Sacramento and sparking an eventually-failed comeback against his former team, Golden State.

Its a sprain and a tear in my ligament, and just day-to-day. Maybe a week, week-and-a-half, two weeks, I dont know yet. It just depends on how I feel and how fast it heals, said Watson prior to Wednesdays game against the Pistons. Im going to come back when Im ready and able to play, and actually help the team. Im not going to try to rush it back or anything like that, so just going to take it day by day and see how it feels.

I watched it a couple of times and it hurt me just looking at it, and it happened to me, so it was pretty bad, he elaborated. I didnt know what it was. I just know that it hurt real bad and I know that I would miss some time, and thank God its not a knee thing or anything, so just try to heal fast and get back on the court with my teammates.

As gruesome as the injury was, Watson was prepared for the results, after suffering a similar injury to his back in the 2009, when he was with the Warriors.

I actually did the same thing to my right elbow. Thats why I wear the arm sleeve. I know how it feels and how its going to heal. I didnt miss that much time, so hopefully I wont miss much time now, said Watson, who is right-handed. Actually, I dove over the chairs of the bench. I fell on the concrete and hit my elbow, so that one probably hurt a little worse.

I just wore a brace and went out there and played, and it just started to heal on its own, he continued. It affected me a little bit. I couldnt really shoot long distance, passing was off, dribbling was off, everything was different, so its going to take some time to get back to normal.

Watson joked that he wouldnt make the same mistake again.

Especially when were up by 40. Im going to start chilling. Im going to have them be mad at me from now. Its too much of a risk out there.

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Doug McDermott scores career-best 31 to lead Bulls past Grizzlies

Doug McDermott scores career-best 31 to lead Bulls past Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Doug McDermott scored a career-high 31 points, Jimmy Butler had a pair of key baskets in the closing minute and the Chicago Bulls beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 on Sunday night.

The Bulls broke a 104-all tie with 25 seconds left on a 15-footer from Butler and a pair of free throws by McDermott. Butler also had a go-ahead 18-footer with 53 seconds left and finished with 16 points to help Chicago win its second straight.

Taj Gibson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls.

Mike Conley led Memphis with 28 points and eight assists, and Marc Gasol had 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Chicago was without second-leading scorer Dwyane Wade, who did not play on the second night of a back-to-back after the Bulls beat New Orleans at home Saturday.

The game featured 16 lead changes and 11 ties, with neither team holding a double-digit lead.

Most of McDermott's damage came in the first half after the Bulls struggled shooting in the latter part of the first quarter. McDermott came off the bench to reverse the trend.

McDermott scored 20 points in the first eight minutes of the second quarter, moving Chicago's lead to eight. He had 22 points for the half and the Bulls led 52-46 at the break.

TIP-INS

Bulls: Nikola Mirotic missed his fourth straight game dealing with an illness. ... F Paul Zipser, a rookie from Germany, started his second game and second straight after coming off the bench in his first 10 appearances this season. ... McDermott converted a four-point play in the second quarter. ... McDermott's 22 first-half points were more than his total for the four previous games (21). ... Chicago scored 14 points in the first quarter, a season low for the opening frame. ... The Bulls are now 4-5 on the second night of back-to-backs.

Grizzlies: Gasol made a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, marking 17 games this season he has made multiple shots from outside the arc. ... Memphis made 11 3-pointers in the game and has converted at least 10 3s in 20 games this season, including 11 of the last 14 games.

MLK HOLIDAY

This is the 15th season Memphis has hosted a game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The Grizzlies are 6-9 in the holiday game.

In recognition of the holiday, Memphis wore special MLK50 Pride uniforms. The black jerseys have sea foam blue numbers, letters and piping with the full T-shirt look instead of the normal sleeveless. The piping replicated the railing in front the rooms at the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated in 1968, and the blue color was similar to the doors on the rooms.

MISSING WADE

Wade's absence meant missing a reunion with Memphis coach David Fizdale. Both left the Miami Heat organization after last season - Wade signing with the Bulls and Fizdale getting his first head coaching job in Memphis. Fizdale said he is sort of a "basketball romantic" and would like to have seen Wade retire in Miami. But he predicted after the player's career "his statue will be out front and (Wade) will be remembered as the great player that he should be."

UP NEXT

Bulls: Return home to face the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Grizzlies: Memphis travels to Washington to face the Wizards on Wednesday night.