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Deron Williams returns to practice but likely won't start for Nets on Friday

Nets guard Deron Williams responds to questions from

Nets guard Deron Williams responds to questions from the media during the fifth day of training camp in East Rutherford, N.J. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Nets' injured stars appear to be on the mend. Center Brook Lopez played eight minutes in Tuesday night's win over Denver and point guard Deron Williams returned to practice Wednesday.

Lionel Hollins said Williams, who has sat out the last two games with an injured calf, practiced lightly as the Nets prepared for Friday afternoon's game in Boston. Williams, who has been involved in trade rumors, declined to speak with the media.

"He didn't really do much," Hollins said. "It was just to test his leg. We don't know what he'll be as far as Friday is concerned. Just get him out there to test and see where he is."

Asked if Williams will start if he's able to play, Hollins said, "Probably not."

The Nets have won two straight games with a starting lineup of Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee. In addition to being unsure of Williams' ability to give quality minutes, Hollins said he probably will start that group because of how well it has played recently.

Plumlee has averaged 20.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in those two games.

"It's not something that you can put your finger on," Hollins said. "It's just something that happened. It's been really good. They execute really well on offense. They are scrapping on defense. Mason's giving unbelievable effort, making some hustle plays. Everybody else is joining in, helping each other and playing as a unit."

After starting 47 of 80 games as a rookie with Utah in 2005-06, Williams has come off the bench six times -- all last season. Lopez, who did not start Tuesday night, had started every game in which he appeared since he came off the bench eight times as a rookie in 2008-09.

Hollins said he spoke about the change with Lopez, who scored six points, shot 3-for-5 and grabbed four rebounds in the Nets' 102-96 win over Denver after missing eight games with a back injury.

"Brook knew he was going to be coming off the bench," Hollins said. "It's just basketball. Whether I talk to him or not, if you have been out as long as Brook has, you would assume that he would know that he couldn't start."

Hollins said he has "no expectations" about how many minutes Lopez will play in Boston.

"We'll see what happens," he said.

The Nets (12-15) have won back-to-back games five times this season. They have not won three straight.

"I'd like to see us take another step [against Boston],'' said Hollins, whose team used a 19-4 run in the fourth quarter to take control against Denver. "I thought that last night was a very good growth step."

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