Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets steals the ball from...

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets steals the ball from Justin Holiday of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on Nov. 4, 2015 in Atlanta. Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

Months removed from his last final exam after his sophomore season at Arizona, school remains in session for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Except these tests he's taking don't require a No. 2 pencil and a Scantron sheet.

The Nets forward is getting a nightly education on the hardwood, fully engulfed in the teeter-totter nature of being a first-year player figuring out his new environment.

Inserted into the starting lineup again Friday night against the Kings to infuse the Nets with athleticism and energy from the opening tip after initially coming off the bench, Hollis-Jefferson has shown flashes of brilliance intertwined with inconsistent play.

That again was the case in Wednesday night's win over the Rockets, which snapped the Nets' season-opening seven-game losing streak. Hollis-Jefferson logged only 12 minutes, 10 seconds, mostly because Rockets superstar James Harden ate him up with 12 first-quarter points.

"It was tough," Hollis-Jefferson said. "James is a great player. He can score the ball pretty well on anyone. Just [wasn't] staying disciplined. You know he's going to make shots. You can't weep and keep thinking about the shots he made. It's next play, next play every time."

As if Harden putting him on a yo-yo wasn't rough enough, Hollis-Jefferson turned over the ball three times in ugly fashion. Each miscue directly resulted in a Houston fast break, and it wasn't long before coach Lionel Hollins had seen enough.

An ineffective Hollis-Jefferson, who missed both shots he took, didn't play at all in the second and third quarters, getting replaced by Bojan Bogdanovic to start the second half. He didn't check back in until the fourth quarter's outset.

"This game is a tough game to learn, man," Joe Johnson said. "Sometimes it's better to kind of sit down and watch. Sometimes. I love his energy and his effort that he brings night in and night out . . . I think he has the potential to be an elite defender in this league. He has to sit back and kind of see how he's going to have to guard guys like James Harden because he draws so many fouls that you can't be overly aggressive.

"So Rondae's energy is great, man. He's going to be fine. When you are a rookie in this league, it takes a little time."

Offensively, Hollis-Jefferson remains a major work in progress. He's totaled only 25 points in eight games and teams aren't really respecting him on that side of the floor, making the Nets play four-on-five at times. He isn't being assertive enough, and he knows it. One of his turnovers against the Rockets stemmed from the dreaded jump-in-the-air-pass.

"You go in there, you've got to first look to score," Hollis-Jefferson said, "and then if the big man steps up, you've got to look to facilitate. I was looking just to facilitate. So I didn't even draw the help to me. That's what messed me up . . . For me, it's a mindset thing. Ever since I could remember, I had to guard the other team's best player. So how I go about it, I just come out ready, knowing my personnel and just playing hard."

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