Joe Johnson: Nets playing 'selfish'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A frustrated Joe Johnson warned that if the Brooklyn Nets don't stop playing selfishly, they'll be in trouble on their daunting three-game Western road swing.

Before taking off to fly to Phoenix, the normally reserved and quiet Johnson voiced very strong concerns about the Nets playing "very selfish."

"Defensively we help from time to time," Johnson said after Tuesday's practice. "Offensively, I think guys kind of exhaust their options and then when there is nothing else for them, then they'll pass it when they have to. For the most part, we have been very selfish."

After the Nets beat Orlando 104-98 and won for the fourth time in five games on Sunday, Johnson vented his frustration with a lack of ball movement and guys getting "a little selfish." He later tweeted that night, "I'm off this [expletive]."

Johnson was asked about that tweet Tuesday.

"Just some frustration obviously," Johnson said. "I am not hiding anything. I just thought we were 4-2, six games into the season, I know it's early, we haven't played anybody.

"I just didn't think that as individuals, as players that we all have each other's backs out there. I felt I didn't believe it. I go back and I watch the tape just to try to get a different perspective. My feelings haven't changed."

Johnson, who leads the team in scoring with 19.8 points and is averaging a team-high 16 shots per game, said he was not talking about any specific players but was "just speaking in general." He also said he hasn't raised his concerns to the team yet.

The Nets (4-2) travel to Phoenix (4-3), Golden State (5-1) and Portland (4-3). So far, the Nets have played Boston (3-3), Detroit (2-5), Oklahoma City (2-5), Minnesota (2-4), New York (2-6) and Orlando (2-5). Their two losses were to the Celtics and Timberwolves, who scored the final nine points of the game to beat Brooklyn, 98-91, last Wednesday.

"There is no way that you can play like we've played," Johnson said. "You can't go out on the road like that and play against these caliber teams, Phoenix, Golden State and Portland, those will be double-digit losses.

"Honestly, I have no idea how it changes," Johnson later added. "I don't know if it is just the opponents we are playing. We will see what happens tomorrow. I don't know."

Before Johnson reiterated his frustration on Tuesday, Nets coach Lionel Hollins spent a portion of his session with reporters making it clear that he doesn't have an issue with center Brook Lopez.

"Brook Lopez and I were never on the wrong page," Hollins said Tuesday. "We were always on the same page. I think what I said was taken out of context and somebody made the comment that I sat a max player. A player is a player first of all. ... I never was mad at Brook or upset or any other negative term."

Lopez didn't play in the fourth quarter Sunday after having difficulty slowing down Orlando's Nikola Vucevic, who finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds -- but just one rebound and no points in the fourth quarter.

When asked about Lopez's defense, Hollins said Sunday that Lopez "wasn't guarding him, and I wanted him to guard [Vucevic]. Simple as that."

"Too much is made of it that I sat Brook, that I'm upset because Brook didn't guard," Hollins explained Tuesday. "It wasn't that he didn't guard ... the guy made a lot of jump shots, and Brook couldn't get out there and match up with him. And when you have those situations, you got to do something as a coach to give yourself a chance to win. I thought going small gave us the best chance."