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'Tough little guy' Watson out vs. Pacers

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'Tough little guy' Watson out vs. Pacers

Man, hes soft, in my opinion, joked Ronnie Brewer about his teammate and friend, Bulls backup point guard C.J. Watson.

He was being facetious, of course. As concerning as Derrick Roses back and turf-toe injuries were and as much as Luol Dengs decision to not have surgery on torn ligaments on his left wrist is laudable, neither of the Bulls two All-Stars have anything on Watson.

A gruesome elbow injurysuffered diving for a loose ball, no lesshere, a concussion there and Sunday night in Philadelphia, a sprained left ankle. Watson battled through the pain to return to the game and be a significant contributor to the Bulls second-half comeback.

It was tough. I was in a lot of pain and tried to go out there, be aggressive and try to help the team out in any kind of way, and say solid on defense, Watson said afterwards. Its still in a lot of pain. Im just trying to get through it and see how it feels Monday.

I just went to contest a shot and I came down on his ankle, he continued, describing the injury. I was in a lot of pain and tried to tape it up, see if I could push off and put a little weight on it.

For once, however, Watson wont be able to fight through it.

Hes out, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, prior to Mondays home game against Indiana. He had swelling today, so were going to sit him out.

Thibodeau is a big admirer of Watsons fortitude, referring to him as a tough little guy after he dislocated his elbow in the New Years Day home opener.

Come on, you guys see him. Hes as tough as they come. Went in, got taped up, back out there, said Thibodeau. I was expecting him out there.

Added Brewer: This seasons been a grind and guys have bumps and bruises, and something about these players on our team that find a way to get treatment and play hard every game, especially C.J.

He puts it all on the line, night in and night out. If hes hurt60, 70, 80 percenthes still going to come in and give it everything hes got, and you respect a player like that, who continues to play through injuries, to be out there and fight with your teammates.

Luol Deng concurred: C.J.s tough and hes going to take tough, big shots for us, like he did tonight. Hes playing with a lot of injuries and he keeps coming back. Hes not complaining about it, he never mentions it and we know some days hes out there struggling, but he gives us whatever hes got.

As for the modest Watson, his formula for playing through pain is a simple one.

Just staying positive. Theres going to be injuries in basketball, but just try to fight through it, determine whats injury and whats pain, then go from there, he explained. I think we all do in some sort of way, so just try to fight through it and get through the game.

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Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.