Avery: Just wait till Nets-Knicks in playoffs

Is Nets-Knicks already a rivalry?

“... I think it’s growing into one (but), I don’t think it will officially become a ‘rivalry’ until you play in a playoff series, where it’s a knock-down drag-out playoff series,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said during an interview Tuesday on ESPN New York 98.7’s “The Michael Kay Show.”

“But it’s better than it was in the past.”

Also during the interview, Johnson admitted that point guard Deron Williams is “playing through some bangs,” but added that “nobody’s injured.”

Johnson hopes that next week’s schedule -- which includes spaced out home games on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday -- will provide more time for his players to get healthier.

Finally, Johnson said he believes shooting guard Joe Johnson, who is shooting just 39.2 percent from the field, will “kick it in gear” and become fully acclimated sometime around mid-December.

“Early on he wasn’t in the best game shape,” Avery Johnson said, adding that he's very encouraged by Joe Johnson's play of late.

Joe Johnson had scored 40 points in his previous two games prior to his 3-for-12 outing on Monday night.