Johnson missed his second game with the sore left heel that flared up during last week’s games with Milwaukee after initially bothering him two weeks ago before the All-Star break.
“I've had plantar fasciitis, but this, I don't think this is plantar fasciitis," Johnson told reporters Saturday. "My heel is bruised badly. It was hard for me just to put my foot down, the heel of my foot on the ground. Today it wasn't so."
To help with the injury, Johnson has been receiving ice massage stimulation treatment and that seemed to help him participate in Saturday’s light practice.
Johnson had played in all 53 games before Friday is averaging 17 points and the team is hopeful he can suit up Tuesday in New Orleans.
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Hollins addresses Evans comments
The Nets suffered one of their worst losses of the season on Jan. 25 when Memphis beat them by 25. In that game, the Grizzlies kept their starters on the court late in the game and in the waning moments, head coach Lionel Hollins reinserted starting center Marc Gasol into the game.
That move irked Nets forward Reggie Evans, who after the game expressed his displeasure.
“That was the point where it was like, wow. I was shocked,” Evans said that night. “I was real shocked to see him come back in. We won’t be forgetting, though. We’re definitely going to look forward to when that day comes when we play [Memphis again].”
A month after those comments, Evans changed his tone and wasn’t nearly as fired up about facing the team that held the Nets to one of their lowest point totals of the year.
Before last night’s game, Hollins spent a few minutes defending his move but not concerning himself with the previous comments made by Evans.
“This is what I say about all that stuff, when we’re getting beat, we were beaten by 20 three times in a row, the other team can do what they want when they’re up 20 points. It doesn’t matter,” Hollins said. “We don’t deserve any kind of courtesy and I wasn’t trying to leave my starters in the game. It just so happened they were in the game and I couldn’t get them out.
“Respect comes from going out there and battling and doing your job and competing and being in the game. We’ve been out of the game and we can’t say anything about what anyone does to that.”
As for the unwritten code some players may have, that didn’t cross the mind of Hollins, who played from 1975-1985 with the Trail Blazers, 76ers, Clippers, Pistons and Rockets.
“This is my theory on that. I play the game until in my mind we have the game in hand,” Hollins said. “I’ve been with teams that have taken out their starters and put subs in, not to lose, not to give up but to change the tempo.
“If you’re going to put your guys on the bench with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter and you put a bunch of guys in and I have guys in that can’t score and you come back and I have to put my starters back in the game then I’m stupid. I have to do what I have to do in my mind to get us a win and when I feel like the game is hand, I take my starters out.”
Early for scoreboard watching
In baseball, players and managers often get asked about scoreboard watching late in the season. In a few weeks, the Nets may experience the same thing, especially since they came into last night just one game behind the Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead.
The Nets have had the same record as the Knicks just once and that was after both teams won their season openers. Since New York was 18-5 on Dec. 15, it has gone 14-15 while the Nets are 20-12 in the same period.
Interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said the topic has come up in meetings, especially since winning a division likely nets homecourt advantage in the playoffs. However, he also feels it is too early, especially with 25 games remaining and just nine of them left at home.
“It’s too early,” he said. “There’s too many games left. Moving forward, we can look at it but I think until we are a lot deeper into it to talk about things like the division and standings.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.