Confidence is not a problem for Nets coach Avery Johnson, and you have to admire him for keeping his game face despite facing long odds to win nearly every night his team steps onto the floor.

Already reeling from the absence of high-scoring big man Brook Lopez, the Nets faced the Pacers on Monday without the services of double-double power forward Kris Humphries (sore left shoulder). The Nets fought hard without their two best power players and fell, 108-94, to the Pacers.

The Nets were in Boston last night (Wednesday) trying to avoid their fifth straight loss.

Having an incomplete roster and a star point guard who admitted he was frustrated with his own play isn’t an easy scenario to deal with, as Deron Williams told reporters it has been “frustrating” and that he hasn’t been helping the team “at all.” But none of that seems to bother the calm, cool and collected Johnson.

“The main thing is, we are a work in process…Things are going to get better,” said Johnson. “We’re going to be a different team once we get ourselves into the latter part of January and early February. We just need to play together some more and go through some growing pains.”

Is he being overly optimistic? Maybe not. Humphries may not be out too long, while Lopez is expected back sometime in February. By then, the Nets may be a different team.

Nearing the second week of play, it hasn’t helped that the Nets have faltered in the second half of games at times, but that’s what happens when you have severe roster limitations. The Nets were outscored 55-33 in the second half of the 98-82 loss to Cleveland. The Nets scored just 34 second-half points in a 94-78 loss at Orlando and 40 points in the second in a 106-70 home-opening loss to Atlanta. In the rematch against Atlanta last Friday the Nets scored 61 in the second half.

“I didn’t like the way our team looked in the second half [against Cleveland] compared to our second half against Atlanta,” said Johnson. “Hopefully, at some point, we’ll be able to put together a full game.”