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C.J. Watson elbow injury mars victory

Grizzlies guard Josh Selby drives C.J. Watswho injured his elbow fourth quarter. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

Grizzlies guard Josh Selby drives on C.J. Watson, who injured his elbow in the fourth quarter. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: February 3, 2012 8:14AM

The Bulls’ impressive 104-64 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies could prove costly as backup point guard C.J. Watson sprained his left elbow early in the fourth quarter while scrambling for a loose ball with the Bulls leading by 40. X-rays were negative. Watson will undergo an MRI exam Monday.

Center Joakim Noah said he thought Watson might miss some games. Derrick Rose, on the other hand, said Watson was joking around afterward and appeared fine. Coach Tom Thibodeau said more would be known Monday.

“We’ll check out how the swelling is, check what the doctors say,” Thibodeau said.

John Lucas III replaced Watson and saw his first action of the season. Lucas had eight points and two assists in 10 minutes, 16 seconds.

“You get to a point where you don’t know when your number will be called, so you have to be ready whether you’re the No. 1 guard off the bench or the No. 13 guard off the bench,” Lucas said.

Watson has been an often-spectacular backup for Rose this season because his game resembles that of the reigning MVP. His speed allows him to push the pace in much the same way Rose does. When Rose got in foul trouble against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, Watson came off the bench to score eight points and dish out nine assists while helping lead the Bulls to victory.

The Bulls already were short-handed in the backcourt as Rip Hamilton was a late scratch because of a groin injury. Ronnie Brewer started in his place. Hamilton is day-to-day.

“We wanted to play it safe,” Thibodeau said of Hamilton. “We want to make sure he’s good. We decided at the last minute to sit him out.”

General manager Gar Forman said he would check out the point-guard market but is confident in Lucas and did not feel a pressing need to bring in a more experienced backup.

“When you have an injury, the next guy has to step in,” Thibodeau said. “That’s why you have him.”

Cleaning the glass

Another trend that developed on the road that Thibodeau hopes continues during this brief two-game homestand is his team’s rebounding advantage. The Bulls outrebounded their first four opponents 174-151. They outrebounded a Memphis team that can be dominant in the paint 55-40.

“I liked the way we approached the game,” Thibodeau said. “We were good on defense, and we were good on offense.’’

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