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After two good games for Nets, C.J. Watson sputters

Brooklyn Nets' C.J. Watsreacts after hitting three-point basket during second quarter Game 1 against Chicago Bulls first round NBA basketball

Brooklyn Nets' C.J. Watson reacts after hitting a three-point basket during the second quarter of Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs at the Barclays Center, Saturday, April 20, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig

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Updated: April 27, 2013 5:58PM



C.J. Watson, a key member of the Bulls’ “Bench Mob,” had asserted himself as one of the standouts for the Brooklyn Nets through two playoff games.

Watson had been third on the team with an average of 12 ppg, and had shot 58.8 percent.

“C.J. has had a terrific year for them,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So we’re going to have to do a better job against [him].”

But in Game 3 at the United Center, Watson struggled in nearly 20 minutes of play, shooting 1-for-7 and finishing with two points Thursday night.

Watson shot less than 40 percent in both of his seasons with the Bulls, but he has boosted the Nets with his steadying play in this series. In the first two games, he has 24 points — just six fewer than Deron Williams, who had struggled from the field — and he also has six assists and no turnovers.

Before Thursday’s game, Thibodeau was complimentary when asked about Watson’s outside shooting.

“C.J. is a basketball player. You sag off of him, he’s going to shoot,” Thibodeau said. “You get up on him, he’s going to go by you. He can play the point, he can play the 2. He’s played well with Williams. But he’s obviously sort of quiet guy, but he’s a very confident guy.”

But Watson, like his teammates, couldn’t connect on Thursday. The Nets shot less than 35 percent.

The Bulls had elected not to pick up Watson’s $3 million option.

Winning at home

The Bulls won a game at the Barclays Center to seize home-court advantage in the series.

But the Nets proved to be one of the NBA’s best road teams during the regular season.

They won a franchise record 23 road games, tied for fifth-most in the NBA.

“It’s an enormous game, it’s one of the more difficult buildings to play in, and we need to respond to our performance in Game 2,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said.

“The road has been good to us, and hopefully it’ll continue to be.”

After Thursday, the Bulls are 25-17 at the United Center.

Diplomatic Thibs

Thibodeau was careful not to make too much of his team’s defense against Williams.

“I don’t know if we harassed him into anything, other than we know he’s a great player,” Thibodeau said. “We have to try to make him work.”



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