Brook Lopez finally returned to practice yesterday.

But will he return to the floor tonight against the Knicks? That remains unclear.

"It is [good to have Lopez back]," Johnson said after yesterday's practice at Barclays Center, where the Nets will face the Knicks tonight for the second time in a little more than two weeks. "But at the same time, we can't treat Brook like a savior because right now the chances of him playing [tonight] are not very high."

Lopez has sat out each of the last five games since he suffered a sprained right foot in the third quarter of the Nets' win over the Celtics in Boston on Nov. 28. Since then, the Nets have gone into a bit of a tailspin, losing their last four gamesentering tonight's rematch with the Knicks, who the Nets defeated in overtime in Brooklyn on Nov. 26.

They'll be hoping to stop that slide against the Knicks, and they'll hope to have Lopez back at center when the game begins.

"I'm feeling good," Lopez said with a smile making it through a full practice, including contact, without any complications. "It was great to go through an entire practice. I wasn't sure I would be able to, not because of whatever happened with my foot but because of my conditioning."

Lopez, who was averaging 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks when he got hurt, has been pain-free for several days. But the reason he has taken longer to come back is because he has been building up his trust in the foot to the point he knows he can move around without a second thought about any kind of setback.

"It's just been more of a matter of getting the explosion back in the foot," Lopez said. "That's just a matter of confidence, as well."

Making it through practice meant Lopez has crossed the first threshold to returning to the court, as Johnson has maintained Lopez would need to make it through a full-contact practice before he would be allowed to play.