Joe Johnson's game is a bit off at the moment, something that's apparent from his stats during the Nets' recent rough patch.
The natural assumption is to point to the extra minutes he's been logging, figuring it's a byproduct of the extended action. Johnson isn't one to make excuses, but he doesn't deny fatigue might be a factor.
"Obviously, maybe some time off would probably be needed," Johnson said after Saturday night's 99-90 loss to the Wizards. "But at this point, we've got a lot of injuries, man, and we are still trying to find chemistry and it can't happen. So I'm fighting through it. I'm giving the guys what I've got."
As the Nets hit the midpoint of their season at 17-24, sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, Johnson is bearing the brunt of responsibility on both ends of the floor.
He has been counted on even more with point guard Deron Williams missing the past six games with a rib injury, but he's in the midst of a five-game stretch in which he has averaged 11.6 points and shot 32.8 percent from the field.
The Nets, who have lost eight of their last nine games, have a couple of days to gather themselves before they hit the road for three games in four nights on the West Coast.
"It's a typical first half of the season -- peaks and valleys," said Jarrett Jack, who also has been forced to play extended minutes.
"But at this point, this is where most teams hit their stride,'' Jack added. "They pretty much show who they are and if they're going to be a team worth talking about, worth mentioning as we go into the later stage of it. And I think our group is ready to do that."
If so, the Nets will need Johnson healthy and can't risk grinding him too much.
Johnson was known for his clutch game-winners and huge shots in the waning minutes in his first two seasons with the Nets, but this season, his offensive production has been poorer in the fourth quarter than in any other quarter. He has shot only 36.6 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Johnson isn't faring well with less than three minutes remaining in a quarter, either, shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from three-point range.
The Nets' iron man hasn't been playing like his usual self of late, and he knows it. But he insists he will persevere and assures his teammates they can count on him.
"I will be all right," Johnson said. "I will get through it. Like I said, I'm fighting through it, man, and I'm here for the guys. Whatever I have to do."