By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During last night’s Knicks/Nets game, cameras caught several members of the Nets looking as though…well…let’s just say something appears to smell bad. Shake your head, Joe Johnson…
By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During last night’s Knicks/Nets game, cameras caught several members of the Nets looking as though…well…let’s just say something appears to smell bad. Shake your head, Joe Johnson…
VIDEO: Joe Johnson Does It Again
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s late at night, I’ve got one full day of vacation staring me in the face, and before I drift off to bed, I’m thinking about the last few things I’d like to accomplish (a long nap tomorrow, not doing chores, etc.) before heading back to the blizzard in NYC. And then Joe Johnson does it again. The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in the worst way, and who better to turn to than Joe Cool?
I know we usually air these posts out a bit, but this one is going to be a bit more to the point, because, you know, vacation. But before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
One other thing before we move on: I’ve received a few emails from Blazers fans and Thunder fans wondering why I had not done Horry Scale posts for their teams when Lillard and Westbrook have hit game-winners. My reasoning is sound: Those guys have hit game-winners, yes, but they both left tenths of a second on the clock. And as we all know from reading the rules above, we are looking for shots with 0.0 remaining on the clock.
Which leads us to Joe Johnson…
The toughest part of Joe’s game winner was having the 6-10ish Serge Ibaka guarding him. But the rest of the shot was the same kind of shot Joe’s been knocking down his entire pro career. He inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who handed it back to Joe, and then you can see all the other Nets clear out of the way and just let Joe do his thing. I’ve often said that if Joe Johnson were in a one-on-one contest against any other NBA player, I think he’d fare pretty well, because he’s terrific at using his dribble and his size to nearly always get his shot off. And this instance was no exception.
More like season situation. The Nets have famously been something of a mess this season, and the recent season-ending injury to Brook Lopez led to many thinking it was time to put the final fork in the Nets (if we hadn’t already). So to say they needed a win not just on this night but to give life to their season is no understatement. And I’m pretty sure nobody thought that win would come on the road, against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder.
Rowdy. Even moreso than on Johnson’s previous game-winner this season. Of course, even though this isn’t an overtime finish, the Nets probably have more at stake now than they did a few weeks back. They’ve been knocked down, but they got up again.
We’ve had a run of 4 Horry scores of late, and I think it’s time to break that streak. While the shot over the bigger defender was impressive, it was a basic jumper in a one-on-one setting. So I’m giving this three Horrys…
What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?
BROOKLYN — Earlier this week, I spent an evening shadowing Nathaniel Butler from NBA Photos as he photographed the Trail Blazers-Nets game in Brooklyn. During the game, Butler gave me a camera and let me shoot the action. What follows are some of the images I took that night, with my thoughts and comments below each picture. These pictures have not been cropped or color-corrected or anything else. This is what I shot … for better, or for, probably mostly, worse.
As the Blazers took the floor to warm up directly in front of me, Nic Batum started hoisting 15-footers from the right wing. I picked up my camera, zoomed in a bit, half-pushed the button down to make sure the image was focused, and then fired off the shot. What I didn’t account for was that Batum would jump when he shot, so my photo chopped off his arms and the ball.
Once the game started, sure enough the Nets ran a play to get Kevin Garnett a shot at the top of the key. I saw the play developing and as soon as KG caught the ball and squared up, I took this picture. Unfortunately, as you may notice, I managed to capture all of the players out of focus. But the basket support and the fans in the front rows are crystal clear. Also, terrific job by me to cut off the shot clock. (more…)
VIDEO: Joe Johnson’s GWBB
The game winning buzzer beaters are coming fast and furious now. So yeah, we’re on the third Horry Scale entry of the last seven days, as last night Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets went to Phoenix, and their game drifted into overtime before JJ managed to end it with a dagger. NBA players obviously can not resist the allure of making Horry Scale appearances.
Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
With the rules in place, let’s check out last night’s game-winner.
I’ve long held that Joe Johnson is one of the most underrated offensive players in the NBA. I watched nearly every Hawks game he played, and saw him night after night carry the load offensively. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always the most efficient offense, but it was more often than not effective. Johnson can score in so many ways, and that versatility was on display last night. Joe’s GWBB was a runner in the paint with two defenders coming after him. Joe put a slight hesitation dribble on PJ Tucker and watched him soar past, then went up and lofted the ball high over Channing Frye for the bucket, just in time. On first glance it wasn’t particularly spectacular, but the more I watch it the more impressive it becomes — going the length of the court in four seconds, being patient enough to let Tucker take himself out of the play, and then getting the shot off cleanly over a seven-footer before the clock trickled out of time.
So here we are, game tied at 98 in overtime, 8 seconds remaining on the clock and about 2 on the shot clock, and Frye misses a three from the wing. Johnson ends up with the rebound, and the rest is history. You often hear coaches debate whether or not to use a timeout in those circumstances. Do you stop the game to set up a play, but also potentially allow the defense to get set? Or do you take advantage of the chaos and let them play? Another potential subplot for the Nets is, Who takes the final shot in a close game? All of these issues were avoided by Coach Kidd by just letting the game play out in the moment. (Worth noting: Deron Williams had sprained his ankle earlier and was out, so perhaps that played into Kidd’s decision as well.)
The Nets have been struggling this season, starting off 2-5, one loss away from the basement in the Eastern Conference, and not looking anything like the contending team most experts projected them to be. Conversely, the Suns have been surprisingly good, beginning 5-3 and making people wonder if talk of tanking was premature. It’s still early in the season, but a W for the Nets could help them start to turn things around. As Johnson said after the game, “It was big. There could be a domino effect.” The Nets better hope so: They play the Clippers in Los Angeles tonight.
The jubilation was there, if a bit muted until Kevin Garnett arrived and shook up the huddle a bit. To be fair, Joe Johnson has never been accused of being demonstrative. (Also, check out Tucker in the background on his knees, head to the court, literally floored by the loss.) “I couldn’t even celebrate, I was so tired,” Johnson told the New York Post. (He logged almost 45 minutes between regulation and overtime.) “But I was just ready to get out of there. [My teammates] are trying to celebrate and I’m ready to go… I’m like, ‘Let’s go into the locker room and shower and let’s get out of here. … We’ve got a tough game tomorrow.’”
Sneaky difficult shot, pretty important game for the Nets, a team excited to get the win. There have been tougher and more important game winners, for sure, but I feel like this a GWBB that will overlooked by some. Anyway, for the reasons outlined above, I’m giving this one three Horrys.
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Joe Johnson’s game-winner?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Footage has been unearthed from Media Day in Brooklyn, where for some reason everybody was dancing to “Cookie Dance” by Chip Chocolate. After watching these videos, I have to say Brook Lopez wins most improved dancer, even from earlier in the video. Also I think we can all agree that as a dancer, Reggie Evans is a good basketball player.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Going into the the 2011-12 season, the Knicks saw popular point guard Jeremy Lin sign with Houston, and they replaced him with Raymond Felton, a former Knick coming off a down season in Portland. While Lin and the Rockets had a nice season, Felton helped coalesce Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith and Tyson Chandler and lead the Knicks to a 54-28 record, their best since ’96-97, and into the second round of the playoffs. This season, Felton says the Knicks have their goals set a bit higher.
I caught up with Felton last week in New York City, where Felton was at an event for Under Armour to help launch its newest basketball shoe, the Anatomix Spawn (right), which he’ll wear this season.
ME: So, what are you doing this summer?
FELTON: I’ve just been training, working out. Trying to spend a little bit of time with family and friends, but for the most part, just really been grinding, just getting after it.
ME: No travel or vacation? You don’t get to take some time off?
FELTON: You know, only traveling I did, when the season ended and we lost, I went to the Bahamas for like four nights, and that’s it. I went to Vegas, but I don’t really count that because that was business. I went down there to watch the team play at Summer League, and I got some workouts in there. I stayed down there an extra week because my AAU Program was coming down to play in tournaments, so I stayed down there to do that. So really, vacation? I haven’t had any.
ME: When you say your AAU program, what do you mean?
FELTON: Team Felton. I’ve got like 5, 6 teams, a legit program.
ME: Is that something where when you played AAU as a kid, you thought, “One day I want to be able to sponsor a program and give other kids this opportunity”?
FELTON: Yeah. You know, the AAU business can be a real crooked business, and I hate to see kids get taken advantage of, man. So I just try to give back. I have a nephew who’s pretty good, so it started with his age group, and I’ve just added teams up from that. It’s been good, my team’s doing pretty good. My highest age group, which is his age group, they finished in the top eight in the country this year. The 14-and-under group, they finished fourth. My other young teams down there, they actually won nationals this year. It’s been pretty good, man.
ME: And are you in the stands cheering during the games?
FELTON: Yeah, I’m in the stands, trying to coach a little bit. You know, get on the referees when they’re making me mad, be like Mark Cuban a little bit. But it’s all fun. I just like to see the kids compete and then try to do the best they can.
ME: For a student of the game and fan of the game, what is it like being the point guard of the New York Knicks? Is it cool?
FELTON: It’s great, man. To be the point guard of the New York Knicks is like being the point guard of the University of North Carolina. When you put that jersey on, everybody will know who you are, everybody will recognize you. It’s a good feeling, it’s a good feeling. I feel like when you play here in the city of New York, if you play hard, they’ll love you. When you’re slacking, they’ll let you know. That’s one thing I do know about New York — these fans, they’ll let you know if you’re not playing up to the part. Which is a good thing.
ME: It’s kind of like Carolina, right? The standards are set pretty high.
FELTON: Yep. If you’re not playing up to the part, they’ll let you know. But it’s fun. I love it.
ME: When the Knicks signed you last summer, a different point guard in the NBA, an All-Star, told me that he thought you would be the perfect fit for the Knicks, because the Knicks were a team with a lot of options and strong personalities, and you’d be able to sort of direct everything and take control.
FELTON: I feel like I’m somebody that Melo and those guys, they respect me. So if I tell them something, they’re not going to get mad, they’re not going to look at me crazy. They respect my game, they respect me as a point guard. I’m going to get you guys the ball. I know that you and JR need to score this basketball for us. I think those guys, they saw that last year, and this year there’s going to be even more of a respect level, because we had a good season as a team. So I think those guys respected me, just like I give them that same respect back. That’s a big part of having a good team — if you’ve got that respect for each other, it’s easy to play with each other.
ME: Last season you guys had a lot of new parts. How long did you feel like it took you guys to kind of get on the same page?
FELTON: It really took the preseason, and we really tried to click, and we got our bumps and bruises out of the way. Because when the season started, we were rolling.
ME: Right, you guys were red-hot, started 15-5.
FELTON: The biggest thing we wanted to do, we wanted to get off to a great start because we looked toward the end of the year, and our schedule was tough. But we ended up with that tough schedule killing it, won 13 in a row, with all those back-to-backs, back-to-backs, travel, travel. Just the mental toughness that we have a team, after all of that, as a team, and as individuals, and just how we trust and respect one another, I think that’s really big. If you trust and respect one another, I think that takes a team a long way.
ME: What’s it like playing with Carmelo Anthony? Because he’s such a great player, and he kind of gets overshadowed a bit by guys like LeBron or Kevin Durant. Even though he might be the best scorer in the NBA …
FELTON: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Because he scores in so many ways. There’s a lot of guys who can score the basketball in this league. Kevin Durant, by far, is one of the top ones. Him and Melo could be neck-and-neck — those guys can score in a lot of ways. But Melo can score in more ways than KD, because Melo can post up, he can score off the dribble, he can score in the mid-range, he can score finishing at the rim, and he can shoot threes. You’re talking about a guy who has a total, complete game, and he’s big and strong — 6-8, big body, strong body. A lot of people like to talk about how he takes a lot of shots, this and that. Listen man: We need him to score. It gets maximized because if you’re having an off night and you take thirty-something shots, it’s like, “Aw man, he’s shooting too much.” If you’re having a great night, he’s got 40-something points and he took thirty-something shots, ain’t nobody saying nothing. I just tell him, “You do what we need you to do. As a team, we know what you’re going to do every night.” So we gotta adjust our games to that. Me as a point guard, I have to adjust my game to that. I hate when people say about him, “He takes too many shots.” People try to compare him and LeBron — two different games. Melo is who he is, LeBron is who he is. So I hate when they try to make those comparisons. You can’t say Larry Bird and Michael Jordan had the same game. They’re different, but they both got chips. Add Magic Johnson in there. Those guys all had totally, completely different games. But they all got rings. That’s all it is. I support Melo 100 percent. He knows that. We all do. And we want to continue to keep working and get better.
ME: You spent last season playing with Jason Kidd. What kind of coach do you think he’ll be this season in Brooklyn?
FELTON: I think he’ll be a great coach, but at the end of the day, he’s not going to have to do too much coaching. He can do like Phil Jackson did — he might have drawn something up out of the timeouts, he might have talked about a couple of things during halftime, but Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, those guys ran the team, they made the game. You’ve got Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the league, you’ve got Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, those guys understand the game and they’re veterans, so there’s not too much coaching you can do. But he’s going to be great for Deron. He was great for me last year. He made my game better. He made me look at a lot of things a whole lot differently, as far as on the court and off the court. So mentally, he’s going to be great for D, without a doubt. He’s going to make him better mentally, and make him better when he’s on the court. The team themselves? Really, they’re going to be fine on their own. As far as a coach, he’s going to be a great coach. A guy who knows the game the way he does, played the game at the level he played, he’s going to be a great coach. Especially as a point guard, because as a point guard you have to understand every position. Say a coach has 50 plays, you’ve got to know 50 plays, but you’ve got to know every position for every play. That’s something a lot of people don’t understand. So he knows every position. It’s going to take him time to get used to going from playing last year to being a head coach this year, but I think overall he’s going to be a great coach.
ME: I live in Manhattan and I know people in the city and the boroughs love the Knicks. But the last few years, with the move to Brooklyn, it feels like people are starting to talk a little more about the Nets. But do you feel like this is still a Knicks town?
FELTON: Oh, without a doubt. I still feel like it. We’ve still got New York on our chest. We’re still the New York Knicks. We’re still the city’s team, without a doubt. Brooklyn can do whatever, and we’re still going to be the city’s team. There’s nothing like having New York on your chest. Brooklyn is going to be a good team, and I think it’s good for the city, for the state, to have the Nets in Brooklyn. It’s going to be a good, big rivalry, well talked about, which is great. I’m loving it. I don’t care that they’re here — I’m happy they’re here, actually. It’s going to be fun.
ME: So this season is just weeks away now — what are your expectations for the Knicks?
FELTON: Same thing as last year. I feel like we should grow and try to capitalize on what we did last year. We didn’t finish the postseason as well as we wanted, but as far as the season that we had, we had over 50 wins, we won our division, finished second in the East. That says a lot right there, we had a great year. Best season we’ve had in 13 years. So we’ve got to capitalize on that, try to get better from there.
ME: And how do you get better from there?
FELTON: As far as the overall season, all you can do is win more games. (Laughs.) There’s nothing else you can really do as far as that. In the postseason, that’s the biggest thing for us. You’ve got to take care of those 82 games, but if you do that and advance to the postseason, we’ve got to try and advance further than we did last season, and get past that second round, get to the Eastern Conference Finals, and go from there. One step at a time. I feel like if we do better than we did last year, it’s an overall successful year. But it’s one step at a time, one game at a time.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As someone who considers himself one of the world’s biggest Atlanta Hawks fans, I spent the better part of the last seven NBA season watching Joe Johnson ply his trade for my Hawks. It wasn’t always highlight central — despite him being 6-7, I’m not sure I ever recall seeing Joe dunk on anyone — but it was incredibly effective and consistent. (Joe played at least 2,500 minutes every season he was with the Hawks but one, and that season was when he missed time with a bum shoulder.) I always appreciated Joe’s professionalism, even if the Hawks never were able to get past the second round of the Playoffs before they traded Joe to Brooklyn.
NBA commissioner David Stern prides himself on the runaway globalism of the NBA—of the League’s vast worldwide reach and appeal. And if you need yet another example of this, check out this remarkable story from Sporting Life Arkansas, which details the life of the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club.
Roughly 500 members strong, the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club was founded by a man who calls himself Yonsan Johnson (though his birth name was Zhu Yan-Qing) in honor of Joe. Inspired by a random magazine cover, Yonsan latched on to Joe and dedicated himself to being Johnson’s biggest fan. He’d never actually seen Joe play, but it didn’t matter, and before long the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club was born.
The story goes on from there and contains twists and turns involving game worn jerseys, care packages, twitter exchanges and hundreds of emails. I just wish I’d known about this club when Joe was on the Hawks, when I, a Hawks fan exiled to New York City, was looking for a like-minded community of people pulling for Joe Johnson. I would have loved to have been a member then. Actually, I’d still be open to exploring some sort of honorary membership.
Anyway, read the story. It’s great.
by Jeff Case
The NBA season kicked into the post-All-Star break section of its schedule Tuesday night, and if you were seeking some good drama to get things started, it was found at no other place than the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Before the Nets game against Milwaukee, ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian O’Connor wrote a pretty scathing column on Nets point guard Deron Williams and his lack of All-Star play this season. Then, the Nets tipped off the second half of their season by hosting the Bucks, a team with playoff hopes and designs on climbing into the No. 4 seed the Nets hold in the East.
A back-and-forth game ensued and the Bucks eventually built a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Nets charged back and it was their other former All-Star guard, Joe Johnson, who took over.
With the Bucks up 105-102, Johnson nailed a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left that had the clutch-ness of Robert Horry written all over it. Then, he did the deed again in OT with another clutch jumper, but this time, made sure it was a legit Horry Scale contender and put Milwaukee away for good.
As an added note, this will be Johnson’s second time on the Horry Scale this season (ICYMI, he Horry’d the Pistons back in mid-December).
For those that are new around these parts, the Horry scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.(IMPORTANT NOTE: While we loved Johnson’s game-tying 3-pointer as much as the rest of you [non-Bucks fans] did, we can’t put that one on the scale because it doesn’t qualify. We’ll mention it below and it might factor into the overall grade, too.)
How does Johnson’s game-winning shot Monday night stack up? Let’s dive in …
Much like the last Horry Scale shot we had around here, we’ve got a superstar going up against a role player, albeit a good defensive one in the Bucks’ Luc Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute needs a hug after this game as he not only got victimized on the game-winner, but on the game-tying shot, too. Of the two shots, we’d have to say the game-tying shot in the fourth quarter was more pressure-packed, given what happens if Johnson misses (a loss).
The shot Johnson takes (and makes) to win the game is one right in his wheelhouse. Hawks fans are well aware of Johnson’s ability to go one-on-one (just go Google “iso Joe Atlanta Hawks” and start reading), so Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo, one of the NBA’s better X-and-O guys, draws up two great plays for Johnson. The game-tying shot, he has Johnson serve as the inbounder, then works him off a high screen from Gerald Wallace and Andray Blatche and he drains the shot.
For the game-winner, Carlesimo has Keith Bogans as the inbounder and works Johnson off a pick from Brook Lopez. Johnson catches it near midcourt with Mbah a Moute playing great defense … until Johnson’s third dribble.
At that point, Mbah a Moute goes for a steal and Johnson has space to make it to the free-throw line extended. Despite a nice recovery from Mbah a Moute, Johnson pulls up, fades a little and the ballgame is over.
Reverse the court in your mind and watch this Johnson game-winner against the Bobcats in 2010.
Tell me you don’t see nearly the exact same play as last night: guard (Mike Bibby here) inbounds, Johnson works off a screen for a catch near the 3-point line, a couple of dribbles … and … ballgame.
Again, we feel for Mbah a Moute here. Much like Tayshaun Prince in Johnson’s last Horry shot, Mbah a Moute is a solid-if-not-elite perimeter defender who loses a step on the Nets’ star at the wrong time.
Game Situation No. 1 (but it’s not a Horry moment, mind you): Nets down three with 6.7 seconds left. Had the Bucks held on, it would have moved them closer to the Celtics for No. 7 in the East (especially since Boston lost in Denver Tuesday night). A loss, luckily for Milwaukee, kept it right where it is in the playoff chase thanks to the fact the Sixers have a ways to go to get into the conversation for No. 8. For the Nets, a loss (combined with the Bulls’ win in New Orleans) would have coughed up the No. 4 seed and given the New York media even more to over-analyze about this squad.
Game Situation No. 2 (this one counts, folks): A big 3-pointer from Bogans with 1:03 left tied this one up and the teams exchanged misses (the Bucks’ one by Larry Sanders and the Nets’ by Williams, courtesy of a Sanders block). Brandon Jennings has a chance to be the hero, but he misses a jump shot, setting up Johnson’s hero moment.
Playoff agendas — be it staying in the East’s top four (the Nets) or just staying in the race (the Bucks) — were at stake here. Brooklyn slightly strengthened its case and, despite a crushing loss at the horn, Milwaukee didn’t do that much damage to its.
If the Nets can somehow go on a magical playoff run this season and win The Finals, we need to have a camera on Johnson once the title celebration begins. Although he’s known as “Joe Cool” to some, Johnson shows he’s not afraid to let his emotions show after draining the big shots against the Nets. The celebration has statistical backing, though, as our own John Schuhmann points out: in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, with a score differential (either way) of five points or less this season, Johnson is shooting 90 percent.
4 Horrys. Although the 3-pointer in regulation didn’t count as an Horry Scale shot, being clutch twice down the stretch definitely factors into the grading around here (just as LaMarcus Aldridge). Johnson did what Aldridge did — more or less — to garner four stars: deliver a big shot to tie the game (although Johnson’s 3-pointer forced OT and Aldridge’s didn’t) and then finish the job with an Horry Scale shot. Johnson got to his sweet spot on the court, got some space from the defender and did what superstars are supposed to do: win games.
What sayeth you?
by Zettler Clay IV
When it rains Horrys, it pours.
At the end of a thrilling double OT affair against the Detroit Pistons, Joe Johnson took matters in his own hands and sent the Brooklyn faithful home with elation. The game-winner was nailed with right foot on the 3-point line and was set up by Kyle Singler’s lay-up to tie the game at 105 with 5.8 seconds left. Johnson (28 points) also sent the game into a second overtime with a tough floater in the lane. Suffice it to say, it was just his day.
For those that are new around these parts, the Horry scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?), and celebration, and gives it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
How does Johnson’s shot Friday night stack up? Let’s take a look.
This shot looked destined for the bottom of the net as soon as it left Johnson’s hands. He inbounded the ball to Deron Williams, who immediately gave Johnson back the ball. Johnson was well-defended on this one…initially. Tayshaun Prince offered some long-armed resistance, but was lost seemingly easy on a nifty stepback. But this is where Johnson earns his keep — he isn’t called ‘Iso Joe’ for nothing. If there is one thing he excels at, it’s getting enough space to knock down a jumper. It’s the type of shot he makes when in a groove. Give him credit for making the long jumper look easy, considering he played almost 52 minutes.
Game knotted at 105 in double overtime. A miss extends game past the 60-minute marker and into another extra period.
The Nets had lost five of six games heading into Friday night’s game. A loss to the Pistons before hitting road to face Chicago Saturday night would have invited minor panic in Brooklyn. With the Knicks in Madison Square Garden looming next Wednesday, the Nets needed this win badly. Williams wasn’t at his sharpest (17 points, 7-of-17 shooting, five turnovers). So it was Joe who was needed to step up.
It was Johnson’s first such shot in a Brooklyn uniform. What better way to ingratiate yourself with the home crowd than to nail a smooth buzzer-beater on a Friday night?
This is Joe Johnson, so don’t expect him to channel Ronny Turiaf. After launching the shot, Johnson already started his victory trot toward his bench. A hop, a run and bump with a teammate and an understated mob later…and we have our celebration. He isn’t owed $89 million over the next four years for his excitability.
3 1/2 Horrys. As far as game-winners go, this had all the style you wanted. Pretty move. Pretty shot. Great game. Great game where the guy nailing the game-winner carried the offense late. If Brooklyn was down prior to this bucket, we’re looking at 4 Horrys easy.
What sayeth you?
by Kevin McCormack
Each day until the end of the NBA Finals, we’ll be taking a look at the conventional wisdom of the moment — which team is currently the favorite to win it all, and which team should be ashamed to still be putting on their jerseys.
Here’s how it looks on the morning of Wednesday, May 11.
Start planning the parade:
It’s a tale of two series in the West. The Mavs dispatched the Lakers with relative ease while the OKC-Memphis series has all the makings of a seven-game classic. A potential Game 7 in Oklahoma would be played on Sunday, meaning that the West Finals couldn’t start until Tuesday, May 17 at the earliest — giving the Mavs a whopping nine days off since they sent Kobe and Co. to the golf course.
For a veteran team (I’m fairly certain Jason Kidd’s knees appreciate the week off), having the ability to rest, regroup and focus on the second half of the playoffs will be invaluable. Hey Cubes — cue the confetti!
Give it up already:
All Ball HQ is about two miles from Philips Arena, so we’re quite familiar with the basketball stylings of the Atlanta Hawks. And as a seasoned watcher of this team, let’s just say that it’s been a fun playoff run, but that run is about to end. And here’s the reason: Joe Johnson.
In case you forgot, the Hawks doled out a whopping $119 (!!) million to Johnson over the summer — a staggering sum of money for a player who you could argue isn’t among the 20 best players in the league. To make matters worse, consider the plight of 2014-15 Hawks. That’s when a 34-year-old Joe Johnson, in the final year of his massive deal, will be making $24.1 million. And if the CBA negotiations result in a hard cap, I hope the fans of Atlanta look forward to Joe Johnson and four guys from The Varsity taking the court each night.
This is all just a long way of saying that if the Hawks are to somehow win two straight games against the Bulls, they need Joe Johnson to start playing like he deserves that contract. Scoring only 15 points in a critical Game 5 just won’t cut it.