EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Deron Williams dived into his memory bank, trying to figure out if the statement was true.
In the two-plus seasons since the franchise was rebranded and moved to Brooklyn, the Nets have yet to see Derrick Rose in anything other than a suit or warm-up sweats as he works up a lather before tipoff.
Injuries robbed the 2011 MVP of most of the past two seasons, meaning Williams has never squared off against Rose while wearing the Nets' black-and-white.
"I haven't?" Williams asked Saturday with an almost incredulous expression. "I guess not."
When's the last time Williams matched up against Rose? It was Feb. 6, 2012, and the Nets' starting lineup featured Deron Williams, Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams, Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans.
So if everything goes according to plan and Rose plays Sunday night as expected, it will mark the first time he's faced the Nets (6-8) since Chicago left the Prudential Center that night after a 108-87 victory.
"Until you said it, I haven't thought about it," Deron Williams said. "I know it's been a struggle for him over the last couple of years with injuries. Now it's just good to see him back out there."
A torn left ACL in the 2012 playoffs forced Rose to miss the Nets' inaugural season in Brooklyn in 2012-13, and he played in only 10 games last season after tearing the meniscus in his right knee in November.
Rose already has sat out eight games this season because of various ailments. Still, he presents a matchup nightmare for the Nets, who have trouble guarding and completely containing athletic players.
After spending time observing Rose during the summer, when he was with Team USA during the FIBA World Championships, Mason Plumlee calls Rose "a super athlete."
Nets coach Lionel Hollins said, "The kid is cat-quick. He jumps out of the gym and he's attacking all the time. We just have to be pretty good in our pick-and-roll defense. But that's not all of the problem, because they have Pau Gasol rolling or they have [Joakim] Noah popping, who's great with passing and all that.
"So it's a challenge. But that's the beauty of basketball. Every night there's a challenge, and we have to go out and hopefully we present challenges to them."
Jarrett Jack embraces the stiff test of staying with Rose, saying it forces him to elevate his game.
"Certain guys kind of get your ears perked up and you want to step up to the challenge. He's definitely one of them," Jack said. "Former MVP, a guy who leads his team playing at an All-Star- caliber level when he's healthy. We just want to go out there and compete in the same breath."
Holding their own against the Bulls (10-6) would go a long way toward providing a confidence boost.
The Nets have defeated only sub.-.500 opponents and hope four practice sessions they had this past week will give them a jolt.
"I think so," Williams said. "Most of our wins have come against non-playoff teams. So if we want to be a good team, we'll have to beat a playoff team eventually at some point in the season."
Notes & quotes: Mason Plumlee has been leapfrogged by Jerome Jordan in the rotation, a byproduct of a rough start to his second season. He's logged 19 minutes in the last four games, is shooting 41.7 percent from less than five feet away from the basket this season and has had his shot blocked nine times within that same area. He's also shooting 48.6 percent from the free-throw line. "It's been tough," Plumlee said. "Playing spot minutes is tough. You are used to playing 20, 25 minutes a game. That stretch at the end of the season, I got really comfortable playing a lot of minutes, and I'm back to playing a minute here, two minutes there. And so you just have to build on that and earn trust with the new staff. As for Hollins' recent criticism of Plumlee's game, the 6-11 big man said: "It's whatever." . . . Bojan Bogdanovic has hit two of his last 17 shots from the floor. He's shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 44.1 from three-point range at the Barclays Center while making only 26.4 percent overall on the road and 19.2 percent beyond the arc. "Sounds like a rookie, sounds like a rookie," Hollins said. "He's more comfortable playing in Brooklyn, he's more comfortable playing in front of the home crowd. When you go on the road, it's new. Every arena that he walks into is new and so it's just a growing process. He'll get better." Bogdanovic knows he can't let the struggles creep into his head. "It's tough, but I have to do this," he said. "If not, there's no minutes for me, I know. So the guys are trying to help me, tell me here it's different. It's a different style than Europe, so I'm trying to get this and keep shooting."