EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If Joe Johnson's sore left heel feels good enough for him to hit the court against the Mavericks Friday night, he can retake his seat in chemistry class.
Alongside Deron Williams, that is.
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The teeter totter-like nature of the Nets' dynamic backcourt duo has yet to be completely ironed out, all because, as Johnson and Williams explain it, these things take time. Meshing two players who've been dominant ballhandlers in their career and are more comfortable with the offense flowing through them isn't simple.
"We're still working on it," Williams said after practice Thursday. "It's something that we're going to continue to work on and get better as it goes. I said it before: I've never played with a guy like Joe, so it takes adjustments. We're used to having the ball in our hands for the majority of the time, so now it's kind of one of those things where . . . as a point guard, I've got to pick and choose, and get everybody involved, and keep everybody happy.
"There are times I don't want to step on, not necessarily somebody's toes . . . I just want to keep guys happy, and make sure they're getting their touches, and deferring a little bit. Sometimes I do that too much and sometimes not enough. So it's one of those things you kind of balance, and get better at, and learn and learn where people like the ball.
"That's part of chemistry," he continued. "It took us a little longer than we expected, but we'll continue to work at it."
Fine-tuning their cohesion remains an ongoing process.
"Me and him really just are trying to feel one another out, as far as still tying to find the sweet spots," Johnson said. "I think we've found a little rhythm, where I know he's comfortable with the ball, where he likes the ball at and vice versa. Those are the little things that we are still trying to learn and still trying to get down pat.
"Our cohesion, it'll come . . . We can only get better."
The trick, in Keith Bogans' estimation, is for Williams to keep the same mentality he's playing with now. Just tweak it upon Johnson's return.
"These last few games Joe has been out, Deron has really stepped it up," Bogans said. "He's more of a facilitator when Joe is on the floor, throw him the ball and being the distributing point guard. But when Joe isn't there, you can see him switch to a different gear, start to score more, be aggressive.
"I told him that's what he has to do. I think when Joe comes back, he'll still stay aggressive."
In doing so, though, Williams must cut down on the 3.6 turnovers he's averaging since the All-Star break.
"A lot of it is careless passes, that's the one thing," Williams said. "Turnovers for me are mental. Once I get one, I'm thinking about not getting another one and then you end up getting another one because you're not trying to turn it over. It's tough."