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Thursday, March 14, 2013
Joe Johnson plans to return Sunday

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson says he'll "definitely" play Sunday night against the Atlanta Hawks.

Johnson had missed Tuesday night's game against the New Orleans Hornets because of a sore left heel.

"I'm actually doing pretty good. I am resting, it feels a lot better. I actually had no pain today. So we're still just taking it easy," Johnson said after Thursday's practice.

The Nets elected to have Johnson sit Tuesday so he'd have five days off instead of four.

"It gives you time to heal up your wounds and time to relax mentally and physically, so I think it's a great time for us," Johnson said. "Considering the fact we probably go out West for a couple weeks, this could really help us out."

Johnson had already missed three games because of a sore left heel earlier this season. In his past six games since returning from the injury, however, he averaged just 13 points on 47.1 percent shooting in 33.6 minutes.

In 61 games, the 31-year-old veteran is averaging 16.6 points on 42.7 percent shooting.

In other news, Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said power forward Kris Humphries will return to the rotation "sooner rather than later." Humphries has not played the past five games after being pulled from the rotation in favor of Mirza Teletovic.

"I'm not going to say I'm happy and all that," Humphries said of sitting. "But it's Coach's job to make decisions and be held accountable for those decisions, and it's my job to be ready to play."

Humphries, 28, signed a two-year, $24 million contract to remain with the Nets in the offseason after averaging a double-double in consecutive seasons. But he has struggled ever since.

In 52 games, Humphries is averaging just 5.5 points and 5.9 rebounds on 43.5 percent shooting. According to statistics on basketball-reference.com, Humphries has made just 33.3 percent of his jump shots and 40.9 percent of his layups in 2012-13.

"It's been tough. We really as far as the bigs haven't had a consistent rotation," Humphries said. "I think he was trying to have a rotation when I wasn't playing. As a player you kind of want a rotation. Your minutes may flex, but it helps the team with rhythm and stuff like that. So that's been tough. And obviously that's been trying.

"I'm as confident as I've ever been in my game. I'm confident that if I get the minutes I'm still a double-double guy. You can't always judge everything by numbers. Sometimes it's not in your control. So for me it's just helping the team win and trying not to make it about me and making it about the team winning. Obviously you have to look out for yourself and your career. But it's a team sport."

Carlesimo also said that he plans to give a chance to Jerry Stackhouse, who hasn't played since Jan. 26,

"Just making decisions," Carlesimo said. "We've been trying to look at Mirza a lot and MarShon [Brooks] to an extent, but we've got to look at other guys, too."