Deron Williams talks to his teammates during practice at the...

Deron Williams talks to his teammates during practice at the PNY Center. (Oct. 5, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He floated an improvised, nifty alley-oop pass that Gerald Wallace threw down hard for a dunk. He swished a trio of three-pointers within a few minutes of each other. At one point, he pretended he had springs attached to his sneakers, pogo-sticking with a smile as he prepared to head downcourt to play defense.

Deron Williams was back practicing, and there was a noticeable pep in the step of the Nets' point guard after sitting out two days to maximize the effects of a cortisone shot he took to calm the inflammation in his left ankle.

"My ankle definitely feels better from the shot," Williams said Sunday at PNY Center, the Nets' practice facility. "So hopefully, that's a short-term and longer-term solution."

The Nets, three days from their opener against the Knicks on Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, are in the midst of an eight-day span between their last preseason game and a nationally televised tipoff against their crosstown rivals.

With such a hefty layoff and his team needing to build on-court chemistry, Avery Johnson decided to put his guys through a three-quarter scrimmage Sunday, making sure they had a hard workout before Hurricane Sandy hits.

"I thought it was good, very competitive," the Nets' coach said. "We were able to get in three full quarters and that's basically everybody playing about 32 minutes, 30 minutes, which is good . . . We needed to practice so bad.

"We've been able to break down our whole offense and defense, and work on our areas of weakness, fortify some areas of strength and get on the same page -- not just for opening night, but for the rest of the start of the season.''

Said Williams: "Nobody knows how the next couple of days are going to be with the way the storm is going. This could be our last practice before the game . . . We wanted to make this a good one. I think we came out and accomplished that, and we should be ready to go."

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