EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For three quarters on Wednesday night in Atlanta, the Nets were in the game against the Hawks, largely because of the work Brook Lopez was doing.
Through three quarters, Lopez had scored 25 points and shot 10-for-15, and the Nets trailed the Hawks by only two points.
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Coach Lionel Hollins sat Lopez at the start of the fourth quarter to give him a rest, and by the time he returned, the Nets were down by eight. Lopez got the ball and scored on his first touch of the quarter and never took another shot as the Nets ended up losing, 101-87.
On Thursday at practice, as the 0-5 Nets prepared for Friday night's game at Barclays Center against Kobe Bryant and the 0-4 Lakers, Hollins was asked if his team needs a reliable second scoring option besides Lopez to step up.
"We need people to do their jobs, as a group," Hollins said.
It would help if the Nets were getting more offense from Joe Johnson but he's off to a slow start, averaging 8.4 points and shooting 28.3 percent from the field.
But Hollins wasn't about to point the finger at Johnson, the six-time All-Star who has a tendency to start seasons slowly. Johnson, the former Hawk who was traded to the Nets in 2012 to team with Lopez and Deron Williams, shot 1-for-10 against his old team, scoring five points.
"It hasn't been great," Johnson said of his early-season performance. "But I just keep coming in, working hard every day, trying to improve."
Johnson, 34, was bothered a while back by a bruised hand but insisted it is fine and has nothing to do with his lackluster shooting. He's certain that if he keeps at it, he'll shoot his way out of his slump.
Hollins said Johnson is a good enough all-around player to help the Nets in many ways even if his shot isn't falling.
"I think he's very valuable," Hollins said of Johnson. "He's averaging about four or five rebounds a game [4.6] and about four assists a game [3.8], and that's important too. You can just look at the shooting percentage, but I think you've got to look at what he adds to the game. Every time we throw the ball to him in the post, they double-team him.
"Joe's played pretty good," Hollins insisted. "I'm not upset at Joe's play at all."