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Starting five: Joe cool with new roles

11/12/2013

It's going to take some time for the Nets to adjust to one another.

But while Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce feel out their new teammates, Joe Johnson is trying to get used to two roles: one with the starting five and another as the top scoring option with the second unit.

"It’s okay," Johnson said. "I can multitask. Whatever these guys need, man, I got to tell them I’m here and I’m willing to do whatever."

Playing with a star-studded starting five, Johnson has deferred to Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Pierce and Garnett. He should see plenty of open shots on the perimeter this season while playing with the starters, and Johnson will pick his spots to be aggressive. But with the second unit, Johnson is forced to be the primary scorer who sparks the Nets' offense.

During a loss to Washington last week, Johnson scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter, mostly with the second team.

"It’s either way with me," Johnson said of playing two different roles with the starters and subs. "I’ve been in a situation like this before to where I played with great players and I’ve been on teams where I’ve been the focal point of the offense. Doesn’t make a difference to me. I just do whatever I’m asked and I just try to do it the best way I know how."

And during late-game situations, Johnson may play a role he thrived in last season: the closer.

Johnson, who hit several clutch shots last season, was the go-to option on Saturday against the Pacers when Kidd drew up a play with the Nets down three. Johnson missed an open 3-pointer, but it won't be Johnson's last time to take the final shot.

"It means a lot," Johnson said of Kidd drawing up a late play for him. "I understand that he has a lot of faith in me. He told me this coming into the season, so it wasn’t a surprise. But if he didn’t call my number, it wouldn’t surprise me neither, because we got a lot of guys that can really score the basketball on this team and who can make big plays."

Up now: Williams is beginning to feel like his old self -- and that's a very good thing for the Nets.

Andrei Kirilenko did not make the trip west and will miss the next three games.

Net fact: Kidd will be searching for his first road victory as head coach in a place where he never won as a Net. During his 6 1/2 seasons in New Jersey as a player, Kidd's Nets lost seven straight at Sacramento. The Nets, though, have won their last two games in Sacramento.

Net question: Do you like Johnson playing with the second unit or would you rather keep another starter with the subs?

What's next: Nets play at Sacramento tonight at 10 p.m.