Joe Johnson was officially listed as a game-time decision Thursday night but a few minutes after he began warming up, general manager Billy King strolled over to a group of interested reporters and declared his shooting guard was active.
Johnson returned after missing the previous five games with a sore left heel. He participated fully in practice Tuesday but according to interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo, Johnson did not respond well, which is why he sat him out Wednesday in a blowout victory at Cleveland.
The Nets went 5-3 on their eight-game road trip and Johnson shot 14-for-41 while playing 92 minutes. By having a winning road trip, the Nets may have further secured their grasp on the fourth seed, which presents Carlesimo with the delicate scenario of managing health and trying to win games.
“I think the biggest thing is to get Joe back, get him minutes and kind of get him going,” Carlesimo said. “I would say it’s our No. 1 priority. We don’t want to lose eight or nine games, whatever we have left, but the No. 1 priority would be for Joe to be healthy and to be playing minutes and for us to get used to him being on the floor again and back to being normal.”
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Johnson’s recent absence has been second-year guard Marshon Brooks. Brooks has played 26.4 minutes per game in his previous five games and has been productive.
In those minutes, Brooks is averaging 12.6 points, aided immensely by a 27 points on 12-for-16 shooting Wednesday.
“There’s one thing I’m not concerned with Marshon and it’s his confidence,” Carlesimo said. “He’ll be fine. He’s playing well and he’ll continue to play well.”
Daily Rose update
Derrick Rose has yet to appear in a game this season as he recovers from a serious left knee injury suffered nearly a year ago in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Philadelphia.
The usual routine for Rose is to shoot in the pregame warmups and though Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau feels his return could occur soon, he also trusts Rose to decide when the time is right.
“It’s on him,” Thibodeau said. “Only he knows. We have to trust him. As I’ve said many times, I trust him implicitly.”
Rose was not the only missing rotation player for Chicago, which entered 2 1/2 games behind the Nets.
Joakim Noah, who also missed the Feb. 1 meeting in Brooklyn, sat out for the seventh straight game with a sore right foot. Richard Hamilton missed his 17th consecutive game with back spasms.
Also missing for Chicago was Taj Gibson, who reinjured his left knee Tuesday. Any decision to shut him down will be made with the team medical staff.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.