Moving closer to the Knicks may or may not be a big deal. It depends who you ask.
The Nets and Knicks were last tied for first place after both teams won on Nov. 30 and were 11-4.
Last night, the Nets had a chance to move into a virtual tie with the Knicks, but key figures within the organization seemed to have different viewpoints on it.
Approximately an hour before last night's game, team CEO Brett Yormark used twitter to express his anticipation about what possibly could happen should the Nets win.
He tweeted from his account @brettyormark the following, "excited about tonights nets game. Chance to be tied for division lead".
That came shortly after interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo dismissed the possibility, since the teams have not played the same amount of games.
"No," Carlesimo said when asked if it would mean anything. "Secondly, we're not tied for the division lead. I told you guys today. I don't know how you guys come up with this nonsense. They have two — they had two less losses than we do. So we're not tied with them when they have one less loss. I don't care what the numbers say. You can't be tied with somebody when you have one more loss than they do. It's meaningless."
Should the Nets beat Atlanta they will be 39-27, giving them a winning percentage of .590. That would give them more win than the Knicks, but their crossriver rival still has a winning percentage of .594.
The difference between being ahead in the Atlantic currently means a possible first-round series with Boston or Chicago. Presently, the division winner would get the Celtics, who are 2-3 against the two teams, while the runner-up would get the Bulls, who are 5-1 against the Nets and Knicks.
The teams will not have the same amount of games played until April 2 when they both have played 73 games after the Knicks visit Miami. The next night the Nets conclude their eight-game road trip in Cleveland.
Johnson's minutes limited
Joe Johnson has played between 30 and 37 minutes in six games since returning from a sore left heel and even though he has had since last Monday between full-contact games, his minutes are still going to be limited.
Johnson practiced fully Saturday and again in shootaround before the game against the Hawks.
"I always ask and they say I'm not, but I know I am," he told reporters of the minutes limit.
Johnson has averaged just 13.7 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting in three games this season against Atlanta, which traded him to the Nets in the offseason.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.