The team is cautious with Brook Lopez and his sprained left ankle. The 7-foot, All-Star center sat for a second game on Monday, so Johnson took it upon himself to pick up the slack in a big way.
The 13th-year shooting guard had his biggest offensive outburst as a Net, finishing with a season-high 37 points on 13-for-20 shooting, including 10-for-14 from 3-point range, to go along with seven rebounds and five assists in just 30 minutes of action over the first three quarters.
In the third quarter alone, Johnson scored a single-quarter career-high 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting and 8-for-10 from 3-point range.
"It's just a good feeling, you catch the ball with the seams every time and you feel like every time it comes out of your hand, it's going in," said Johnson, who said he has been under the weather the last few days. "When you're out there in the heat of it, I didn't think I had 29 in the third, I just knew we were playing pretty good."
A step-back 3-pointer from the left baseline, plus the foul on James Anderson, capped Johnson's 29-point third quarter and gave the Nets a 100-73 lead going to the fourth.
With Johnson within range of the NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a game (12), head coach Jason Kidd gave him the option of coming back out to start the fourth quarter. The Nets up big and there was no real need for Johnson to be playing, so he opted to take the fourth quarter off and rest instead.
"He's been the one horse that's been consistent for us," Kidd said. "We've asked him to play 40 minutes when we've had more than one injury. He's a guy who never complains and just goes out and does his job. Tonight, the performance he put on was special and it was fun to watch."
The Nets (9-15) have won four or their last five, which, in a brutal Atlantic Division, puts them right in the mix after an abysmal start to their season. They ended the night just two games behind the first-place Boston Celtics. Collectively, the five teams in the Atlantic Division have a record of 46-78 for a winning percentage of .371.
Four of the Nets' next five games are against teams with losing records, which means there is an opportunity to go a run and take control of the division, which no one has been able to do as the season moves past the quarter-pole.
"We're just taking it one game at a time," Johnson said. "We understand we're still in the hunt in the East, so we're just gonna take it one game at a time and see what we come up with."