Point guard C.J. Watson, whose shyness prompted his sister Vonyetta to give him the nickname when he was 17, remains a man of few words at 28. On Wednesday night, however, his play spoke volumes.
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Coming off the bench, Watson scored a season-high 16 points, all in the second half, and went 4-for-4 from three-point range. In 23:45, he pulled down six rebounds, handed out three assists and registered two steals to help propel the Nets past the Raptors, 94-88.
"He was taking his shots when they were there and making them. That's what C.J.'s capable of," coach Avery Johnson said.
The former backcourt man for the Warriors and Bulls hadn't been very capable of putting the ball in the basket this season, though. He entered the Toronto game having hit 38.7 percent of his shots from the field and 35.9 percent from three-point range.
"I don't think I've been in a slump," he said after the game. "I just haven't been getting the shots I wanted to take and forcing them. The confidence is still there. Everything's still there.''
Watson's father is a Baptist minister, and Charles Akeem Watson Jr. grew up helping out in the church and studying the Bible. He won state championships at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and was a psychology major at the University of Tennessee, where he averaged 15.3 points per game. He ranks second in career assists for the Volunteers.
Nothing came easy after that. But faith, a work ethic and humility can take you a long way. Undrafted in 2006, Watson played in Italy, Greece and the D-League before getting a tryout with Golden State in 2008. From there, he was traded to Chicago in 2010 and signed a two-year deal for the league minimum with the Nets in July to back up Deron Williams.
On Wednesday, he filled that role the way the Nets had hoped, playing aggressively and running a motion offense. "He hit some big shots for us, got some key steals," Williams said.
As a media scrum waited near Watson's locker, teammates kidded him, saying that the YES network was preparing special graphics to note his night's contribution. Watson smiled, continued dressing silently and, to no one's surprise, deflected the praise.
"Coach called some good plays, Reggie [Evans] set some good picks, Joe [Johnson] found me [with passes] and I knocked some shots down," Watson said.
Rather than isolations, the second unit had more movement, and players found open spots. "That's what we haven't been doing," Watson said. "It's been pretty tough. We miss Brook [Lopez, who has a sprained foot]. Hopefully, we're going to get him back next game. But we've got to try to find a rhythm no matter who's in or who's out."