Joe Johnson just hasn't been the same player we've been accustomed to watching during his tenure in Brooklyn. Now we know one reason why.
Following the Nets' 108-73 blowout loss to Utah, it was revealed that Brooklyn's leading scorer is really hurting. Here's what he told Nets' beat reporters last night:
"I’ve just got tendinitis real bad in my right knee and in my left ankle," Johnson said. "I’ve been playing with both of them, and been pretty banged up for probably about the past month and a half or so. We don’t have time to have guys sit and rest, like some other teams do. We just don’t have the roster for that, so I just have to play through it."
Johnson is averaging 35.5 minutes per game which is three more than he averaged last year, but approximately a whole minute less than his career average. He's scoring 15.5 points per game, but in his last six appearances, he's averaged 10 points on 32.4% shooting.
This isn't something new for Joe. He underwent similar issues last season and has a good idea of how to manage the pain and stay off his feet as much as possible. It's one thing if the Nets were tanking - then Joe could rest - but being that they're a half game out of the playoffs and approaching a difficult five-game stretch, it doesn't appear that Johnson is going to throw in the towel.
"I mean, it’s hard to explode and push off my left knee, which kind of enables my mobility a little bit, or just moving my feet defensively," Johnson said. "But some games it feels great. I think we had three days off [last week] and we practiced, and I think I rested two days before the Sacramento game, and I had a little pop that game, then came back with the back-to-back in L.A., which wasn’t so great, and [Friday] off which was pretty good. But it still just kind of lingered."
It also appears that Joe has been a soldier for Coach Hollins, whose apparently aware of swingman's pain.
"Well, Joe's struggling a little bit physically, but he's hung in there and he keeps playing," Lionel Hollins said. "He doesn't ask to come out, he doesn't ask to sit down. We've got to have other people step up and play better so he can get more rest."
The Nets next five games are against the Trail Blazers, Hawks, Raptors, Clippers and Raptors, all teams well over .500. The five-game stretch could be a breaking point for the Nets, should they continue to play the way they've been; And with Johnson hurting and Teletovic out for the season, the silver linings for Brooklyn are essentially non-existent.
- Joe Johnson playing with tendinitis in right knee, left ankle - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Joe Johnson playing through 'real bad' tendinitis for Nets - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Nets rewind: The 2 ways to salvage this season - Tim Bontemps - New York Post