PHILADELPHIA -- Watching C.J. Watson hobble around the Chicago Bulls locker room after Sunday night's win over the Philadelphia 76ers wasn't exactly a big shock. He had sprained his ankle late in the second quarter and his return was questionable -- but not to his teammates.
They just assumed, like always, that Watson would be back on the floor. After all, he's already dealt with a painful dislocated elbow injury and a concussion this season. A sprained ankle wasn't going to stop him, was it?
No, it wasn't.
Watson returned to the game, giving the Bulls a big spark off the bench by scoring nine points, including seven in the fourth quarter.
"C.J.'s tough," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "And he's going to take big shots for us like he did tonight. He's played with a lot of injuries and he keeps coming back. He's not complaining about it. He never mentions it. And we know some days he's out there struggling, but he gives us whatever he's got."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau never doubted that Watson would be back on the floor.
"Come on, you guys see him," Thibodeau said. "He's as tough as they come. He went in, got taped up. He's back out there."
Watson admitted after the game that he was still in pain. He wasn't sure of his status for Monday night's game against the Indiana Pacers.
"It's in a lot of pain right now," he said before limping out to the bus. "Just trying to get through it and see how it feels [Monday]."
The last word: Thibodeau on all the ways the media tries to define games:
"That's for you guys," he said with a laugh. "What do you guys say? You've got measuring stick, rivals, what else? You've got ... whatever. Messages. We've just got to be ready for the next one."