EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Joe Johnson found himself in an unfamiliar place in the final moments of regulation in the Nets' 108-100 overtime loss to the Suns on Friday night: the bench.
Even though he often hasn't been the one hoisting potential game-deciding shots this season -- Jarrett Jack holds that distinction -- Johnson admittedly was a bit perplexed that his presence wasn't needed in some capacity.
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He was powerless to prevent the Nets from blowing a 15-point lead in the final 5:45 of the fourth quarter, and he was watching from the sideline -- not far from coach Lionel Hollins -- as Jack's last-second shot caromed off the rim.
"Just from not even being on the floor, being a decoy, yeah, that was a little different," Johnson said after practice Saturday. " . . . I mean, it may have been a little puzzling, but it wasn't to the point where I was [ticked] or I thought he made a bad decision."
Johnson said there's no hard feelings, and Hollins explained to the team why he went with a lineup featuring Jack, Deron Williams, Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic and Alan Anderson.
Several things played into the Nets' second straight rough loss as they attempt to make a playoff push, but some inquiring minds remain focused on Hollins' exclusion of Johnson and Brook Lopez.
"I knew Jarrett was going to shoot the ball," Hollins said. "It doesn't matter. We could have put four people in [from] the stands. Jarrett was going to shoot the ball. If I run a pick-and-roll for Jarrett, he's going to shoot the ball. And he got a good shot and he missed it. It went in and out."
Fighting through tendinitis in his right knee and left ankle, Johnson simply hasn't been his usual go-to self this season. He's logged 36,546 minutes in 956 games since 2003-04 -- a number second only to LeBron James' 41,916 in 1,053 games -- and it's a challenge to keep himself completely refreshed.
"Obviously, a lot of minutes take a toll on you, but we all envisioned this team being pretty deep so guys won't have to log 40, 45 minutes," Johnson said. "And obviously, injuries happen. I had a stretch where I was playing at least 42, 44 minutes a night. It just happens. But it's no gripe on my part. I try to do whatever I can to help this team win, but it takes its toll on you."