Tyler Johnson has earned his way back from persona non grata into the Nets’ backcourt rotation. And on a loaded team with All-Star guards like James Harden and Kyrie Irving, that’s not a simple thing.
“Well he’s worked really hard,” coach Steve Nash said. “He’s very competitive. And I think he’s earned an opportunity. I think it’s tough; there’s so many perimeter players. But trying to shed some minutes for guys, it really [helps].
“He can come in and give us a lift. So, I just love him as a person and a player, his competitive spirit is outstanding. He’s been making some shots as well, and he’s very capable offensively, of course. But just that competitive nature I think is really important for our group.”
After having appeared in just five of the Nets’ first 20 games — and seven of their first 24 — Johnson has played in five straight coming into Tuesday’s date in Phoenix. After topping six minutes only once all season before this span, he’d logged at least 19 in four of the past five, including a season-high 10-point outing in Monday’s victory at Sacramento.
For the 28-year-old Johnson, Tuesday’s game marked a rematch with the team that had waived him on Feb. 10, 2020. That paved the way for him to finally get picked up by Brooklyn for the rest of the season, playing eight games in the Orlando bubble.
Landry Shamet has clearly broken out of his early-season malaise. He entered Tuesday averaging 11.0 points in 20.9 minutes, cracking double-figures six times and shooting 39.3 percent from behind the arc.
It’s a far cry from his first 16 games, when Shamet averaged just five points on 28.6 percent shooting from deep. He seems to have developed a particular chemistry with James Harden, who has assisted on 12 of his 22 3-pointers in this run.
The Nets made the signing of free agent guard/forward Andre Roberson official Tuesday. He wasn’t listed on the injury report for the Suns, implying he didn’t need any further quarantine and could be available immediately.
Considering Roberson hadn’t played since his seven-game stint in the playoffs with Oklahoma City — which ended on Sept. 2 — it’s unclear how long he might need to get up to speed.
Kevin Durant (hamstring) missed his second straight game, with his status up in the air for Thursday’s game against the Lakers at Staples Center.
The Nets most-used lineup of the Big Three — Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving — alongside Joe Harris and Jeff Green has posted an Offensive Rating of 125.6, Defensive Rating of 108.2 and Net Rating of 17.4. They’re a plus-35 in just 76 minutes. The lineup with DeAndre Jordan replacing Green at center has an Offensive Rating of 120.2, Defensive Rating of 101.9 and Net Rating of 18.3, a plus-24 in 50 minutes.