<
>

Nets trio expected back vs. Spurs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Brooklyn Nets should be a much healthier team going into Thursday night's matchup with the San Antonio Spurs at Barclays Center.

Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche all practiced Wednesday and are expected to face the Spurs.

Johnson missed Monday night's win over Philadelphia with right knee tendinitis. Kirilenko has missed the past three games due to a sore right calf, and Blatche has missed the past two games due to a bruised left hip.

"It was good getting back out here with the guys and getting up and down the floor," Johnson said. "Once I kinda get warmed up, it's all right. We'll see how it feels tomorrow, but the plan is to play."

Johnson said his knee began bothering him in early January. He was getting treatment on it, but it wasn't really getting any better. He was averaging just 9.6 points on 36.4 percent shooting in his previous five games before deciding to take a game off to rest and heal.

"[I was] compensating, taking the pressure off my right leg and putting it on my left," he said. "It just kinda started making my calf a little sore in my left leg and my [left] foot.

"I'll be all right, it's nothing major. It's a small thing and we'll try to keep everything calmed down so it doesn't linger."

Johnson dealt with plantar fasciitis in his left foot last season, tearing it in Game 1 of the team's first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls.

"It's better to tear it, but you need about two weeks to rest," Johnson said. "I didn't have any time to rest, so I just kinda had to go with it."

Kirilenko's versatility was certainly missed. The Nets are 12-5 with him in the lineup, 9-20 without him.

"I feel pretty good. Nothing is bothering me, so I'm ready to go," he said.

Kirilenko doesn't expect to have any limitations when he comes back. He said it felt like he pulled a muscle in the practice following the Jan. 27 game against the Toronto Raptors, so he had to rest in order for his calf to heal. He had an MRI, which came back negative.

Blatche said he felt good and went through practice with no problems.

"Looking forward to being out there tomorrow," he said.

Coach Jason Kidd said he would see how the players felt Thursday before deciding whether they will play.

The Nets have been decimated by injuries this season, losing a total of 99 games to injury split among nine players. As a result, Kidd has already had to use 18 starting lineups.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.