Joe Johnson is going to be rather busy during All-Star Weekend later this month.
A week after learning he had been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad as a reserve, Johnson on Thursday night was selected as one of the eight participants for the three-point contest. It'll be the second appearance in the event for the 13-year pro.
Johnson, Golden State's Stephen Curry, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Orlando's Arron Afflalo, Washington's Bradley Beal, San Antonio's Marco Belinelli, Portland's Damian Lillard and Minnesota's Kevin Love will compete for the three-point title Feb. 15 in New Orleans.
Said Johnson, "I've kind of known about it. We'll see what happens. I'm excited. I'm trying to do better than I did last time. Last time I [participated] was in Phoenix. I think I only made seven throughout the whole round. So I'm looking forward to beating that."
Johnson, who entered the night shooting .389 from beyond the arc, canned 10 three-pointers in the Nets' Dec. 16 win over the 76ers, tied for the NBA season high. Johnson and Curry are the only NBA players who have hit at least eight threes in a game multiple times this season.
Brook Lopez made a rare appearance inside the Nets' locker room Thursday night. He hasn't been seen much since Dec. 20 in Philadelphia, when he kept playing in the fourth quarter and overtime despite fracturing his right foot. Lopez, who had surgery Jan. 4, hasn't spoken publicly about his season-ending injury or what it was like to undergo a third procedure on the foot in 17 months.
Lopez, sporting a walking boot, didn't formally address reporters but seemed to be in good spirits. He said he's still got a long way to go in his recovery before being able to resume basketball-related activities.
"It was good,'' Deron Williams said. "He was at practice yesterday and I saw him tonight. So it was good to see him out and about. He said it was only the second time leaving his house. I feel sorry for him, man . . . It's been a tough couple of years for him. It just seems like he can't catch a break. We are just praying for him and hope he makes a speedy recovery.''
Said Kevin Garnett, "It was good to see him, good energy. The guys, everybody was excited to see him. The coaches, everybody. He lit the room up. So it was good to see him in good health.''
Charles Barkley isn't on the Nets' bandwagon just yet, and judging by some of the venom he spit about them on a conference call to promote next week's All-Star festivities, he's not about to hop on board anytime soon.
"The Nets stink, man," Barkley said. "They lost their best player in Brook Lopez, Deron Williams has been inconsistent, they're beating up on a bunch of ugly chicks in the Eastern Conference. Don't act like they've got a good team. Stop it."
Barkley also let loose on the Nets' $98-million point guard.
"Deron Williams has been hurt a lot the last couple years," Barkley said. "He's never going to get back to where he was in Utah. His best days are behind him. Kenny [Smith] always has a great quote: 'There's only so many jumps in these knees, or these ankles.' And once your tires on your car start getting hurt, you're never going to be the same. That's just how it is."
Kidd's new life
Things are different now than they were when the Nets and Spurs faced each other on New Year's Eve in San Antonio and the Nets were blown out, 113-92. After beating the Spurs Thursday night, they are 12-4 since that game, and Jason Kidd was named coach of the month Monday.
"I think Jason probably feels like he's been reborn," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Things looked really bad for a while, and everybody's on him, and this, that and the other. In this game, you just go to the next one. You keep playing, you keep trying to improve, and he's got that tenacity and competitiveness where he's just not going to give in.
"He's figured some things out, obviously. He stuck with it and they are playing great basketball right now. So I'm happy for Jason because he's a great competitor. He's learning a lot on the fly and obviously learning quickly."