EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Last season, Joe Johnson was the focal point of Jason Kidd's offense. Brook Lopez went down because of an injury, so the Brooklyn Nets fed Johnson the ball in the post and let him be their No. 1 scorer and playmaker.
But with Deron Williams and Lopez healthy now, Johnson has had a rough go of it early on in 2014-15, as he tries to find his way in new coach Lionel Hollins' system.
Johnson, who made headlines a few weeks ago when he called out his teammates for being “selfish,” is averaging just 11.3 points on 39.1 percent shooting in his last six games. In three of those six games, Johnson has scored less than 10 points. He took five shots Nov. 21 in Oklahoma City and seven shots Sunday against Chicago.
“I think that's what we're figuring out now,” Johnson said Tuesday morning prior to Brooklyn's evening game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. “Like I said, it's a process. I don't know how long it's going to take, but we'll see.”
Added Johnson: “I'm just doing what's asked of me. I'm just coming out night in and night out and trying to play hard and help this team win.”
Johnson doesn't care that the Nets are facing the other NBA team that plays its games in New York City.
“It's just another game to me, guys, to be honest with you,” Johnson said. “We're at a point right now where we need wins, so I could honestly care less who we're playing. I just want us to come out and put our best foot forward and string some wins together.”
Williams echoed those sentiments. The Nets (6-9) have the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers coming up on their schedule, but their focus is on the Knicks.
“We gotta get back on the winning track. We need a win. This is a big game for us. Every game we lose we're putting ourselves in a bigger hole, so we need to start turning it around now.”
The Nets and Knicks (4-14) come into play with a combined record of 10-23. Suffice to say there's not much buzz about a matchup between the two teams that feature the NBA's highest payrolls.
Asked about Nets-Knicks on Monday, Carmelo Anthony said, “It's not a rivalry yet.”
“I agree,” Hollins said. “It's not cut and dry that it's not a rivalry, but when it gets to that level where that's all everybody's talking about in the city because both teams are good and they're going against each other and there's a lot more on the line, that's when it'll be a true rivalry.”
Long-range presents needed: In their last nine games, the Nets are shooting 28.9 percent from 3-point range. Only the Philadelphia 76ers are worse over that span.
“I sent a letter to Santa Claus, and hopefully the elves will be taking the lid off the basket,” Hollins joked. “I asked them to come before Christmas. I don't know. It just goes in cycles like that.”
Mirza Teletovic, who has hit just 20.5 percent of his 3s in his last eight games, is one Net who hopes things turn around. Teletovic said it's just a matter of continuing to shoot and staying confident in your shot.