Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson

Johnson's long-range shooting buoys Nets

May, 11, 2014
May 11
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On Saturday night, it didn’t matter if it was from the corner, the wing or the top of the key.

Joe Johnson was spotting up beyond the arc, receiving on-time, on-target passes from Deron Williams, and draining 3-pointers all over the court.

Johnson went 5-for-7 from downtown in Game 3, leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 104-90 victory over the Miami Heat. The Nets hit a franchise playoff-record 15 3s overall on 25 attempts.

“I thought the reason was because we were able to get stops and get out in transition, and it worked great for us,” Johnson said Sunday.

Quietly, as always, Johnson remains Brooklyn’s best postseason performer.

“You know, Joe’s been great for us all year,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s one of the leaders on this team. You know, he probably doesn’t say a lot, on the court or to you guys, but in that locker room, those guys look to Joe as a leader, and he’s playing extremely well for us.”

Against the Heat, Johnson is averaging 16.3 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting -- including 47.1 percent from 3. Overall in the playoffs, he’s averaging 20.2 points on 53.4 percent shooting -- including 42.3 percent from downtown.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” LeBron James said of Johnson. “He plays at his own tempo. You can’t speed him up. And he’s a big body, too, so he can get physical with us as well.”

Asked why he’s been able to have so much success, Johnson said, “It’s just about staying focused on both ends of the court. Just picking my spots offensively and defensively, and helping my teammates.”

Johnson enjoys going up against James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the two-time defending champions.

“This is what we asked for, so now that we’re here, we have to make the most of it,” Johnson said. “This is basketball at the highest level.”

Starting Five: Building on D-Will, Johnson

May, 7, 2014
May 7
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The Brooklyn Nets may have been outclassed in their 107-86 blowout loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, but their backcourt was not.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 17 points, while combining to shoot 14-for-21 from the field -- including 6-for-11 from 3-point range.

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Williams hit a pair of buzzer-beating 3-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters to keep the Nets afloat. He was moving well after recently receiving a pair of injections in his left ankle, though he struggled defensively against Mario Chalmers.

Johnson, the team’s best player in Round 1, started to get into a rhythm in the second quarter, when he scored eight points. Johnson also hit back-to-back shots late in the third, but it was too little, too late.

Still, it’s something for the Nets to build on. Brooklyn shot 47.1 percent from the field and went 10-for-24 from 3-point range, but Nets coach Jason Kidd felt like his team’s offense was too stagnant.

While the Heat were driving and making things happen in the paint, the Nets were settling and taking too many shots from the perimeter.

Much had been made of Brooklyn’s regular-season sweep of Miami, but the Heat were far-and-away the better team in Game 1.

The two-time defending champions mean business, and they came out and showed that the playoffs are a whole different animal.

Brooklyn’s lackluster performance has to concern its fanbase. Still, if the Nets could somehow leave Miami with a split, it would allow them to get over their Game 1 debacle.

Question: How concerned are you about the Nets right now? Let us know in the comments section below.

In case you missed it: Perhaps you may want to delete this game from your TiVo. LeBron James played like the best player on the planet, and the Heat dominated from start to finish. Plus, more on the blog.

Stat to know: According to ESPN Stats & Information, James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to hold the Nets to 33.3 percent shooting when guarding their man. The Nets shot 48.8 percent when guarded by any other members of the Heat.

Up next: The Nets will hold practice on Wednesday. They need to make A LOT of adjustments.


MIAMI -- LeBron James backed down Shaun Livingston with ease, missed a short shot before hauling in his own miss and scoring a layup with no resistance.

Less than a minute later in the third, James shifted into his locomotive gear in transition, buried his shoulder into Andray Blatche and scored easily on a drive that was part of a 15-2 Miami run.

James immediately began jawing and pounding his chest.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesLeBron James drove home a stern message to the Nets in Game 1: This is big boy basketball now, fellas.
The Nets? They looked like they wanted no part of this fight with the defending champs.

In Tuesday’s Game 1, the best player on the planet reminded the Nets they are no longer in Toronto. And this certainly isn’t the regular season anymore, either.

Joe Johnson may like the way the Nets match up with the Heat. But in Game 1, the Nets were completely outmatched and outclassed by the champs in a 107-86 rout at American Airlines Arena.

Brooklyn didn’t look anything like the only team to ever complete a four-game, regular-season sweep of James. Perhaps that’s because the Heat didn’t look anything like the team the Nets beat in the regular season.

The Nets were assembled with the dual goal of beating the Heat and winning a title. They wanted Miami in the playoffs. And in the series opener, the $200 million team looked softer than ice cream melting in the South Beach sun.

Jason Kidd watched as his team allowed the Heat to score 52 points in the paint and shoot 56.8 percent. In other words, the Nets offered zero resistance inside the paint.

“Our defensive game plan wasn’t executed at all,” said Deron Williams, whose 17 points and 7-of-10 shooting was wasted by poor defense. “We made a lot of defensive mistakes. We allowed them to roam free. I know I got beat on a lot of backdoor cuts.

“It was just kind of the theme of the night: Just layups, layups, layups.”

Seeing the Heat win Game 1 wasn’t surprising. But here's the alarming part: A Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett-led team allowed James and the Heat to do whatever they wanted.

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Pierce said before Game 1 that there was a “dislike” between him and James from all their playoff battles in the past, since the two are chasing the same thing -- a title.

It would have been nice to see a hint of that "dislike" on display inside the paint. Charles Oakley would have been disgusted with the fact there wasn’t a single hard foul delivered on James or Dwyane Wade.

This is the playoffs, and yet James barely broke a sweat, scoring just 22 points and going to the line only two times. Wade had 14 points and didn’t even make a trip to the line.

On the other side, Pierce scored eight points and didn’t play in the fourth, with the game mostly out of reach. Garnett played a minute in the final quarter but finished the game scoreless -- the first time he failed to score a point in 139 playoff games.

The Nets looked every bit like a team that needed a series-winning block to survive the inexperienced Raptors, while the Heat looked like a two-time defending champion coming off an eight-day rest between series.

And the Nets didn’t just run into a rested two-time champion. They ran into a motivated one. How many times did the Heat hear about how the Nets had their number in the regular season, Pierce and Garnett play James harder than anybody else in the postseason, and the Nets present all sorts of matchup problems? Probably about as many times as they scored in the paint in Game 1.

“You got to think about it,” Garnett said. “If you are a competitor, and you keep hearing it over and over, and you got time to rest and sit back and watch the team and continue to hear that, you got to think competitive juices are going to [take over].”

[+] EnlargeNets
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyThe Nets looked lifeless in Tuesday's Game 1 loss.
“I just thought with that being kind of gasoline on the fire, they came out running at home like they were supposed to,” he added.

Now the Nets must respond with some fight or this series will be over a lot quicker than anybody thought. Kidd has to make the necessary adjustments after Erik Spoelstra had his team coming out in attack mode. Garnett and Pierce have to inject some toughness into this team.

“It was a three-point game at the half, fellas,” said Pierce, who like many of the Nets remained confident after the blowout loss. “We are not overreacting. We feel like we still can get a game in this building.”

LeBron bullied the Nets in Game 1. The Nets offered no resistance. Now they must retaliate in Game 2.

Time to find out what Brooklyn is made of.

'Joe Jesus' healed; big spring on tap?

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:57
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Joe JohnsonAP Photo/Seth Wenig
NEW YORK -- By the end of last season, Joe Johnson had become “Decoy Joe,” the plantar fasciitis in his left foot having significantly worsened, robbing him of his ability to play basketball at a high level in a do-or-die Game 7.

“It was tough, man,” Johnson said, harking back to his six-point, 2-for-14 shooting performance in 38 minutes on May 4. The Brooklyn Nets were eliminated on their home court by the Chicago Bulls, losing 99-93.

“I know what I’m capable of doing, and I couldn’t lift the team in any form or fashion,” Johnson continued. “That’s probably the most frustrating thing.”

But heading into his second playoffs with the Nets, the man Kevin Garnett refers to as Joe Jesus because of his prowess in the clutch is mostly injury-free -- and ready to make a huge impact.

“Obviously, this is a different time for us as Brooklyn Nets because of the players we have and we’re going into the postseason healthy,” Johnson said. “And me not playing on one leg is gonna make a big difference.”

Johnson enjoyed an All-Star campaign in 2013-14, averaging a team-best 15.8 points and shooting 45.4 percent (40.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark of his career) in 79 games.

Brooklyn Nets
Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsJoe Johnson makes his money at the buzzer. The Nets' closer finished off Brooklyn's comeback with a dagger in Oklahoma City.
The 32-year-old veteran knocked down 162 3-pointers (second most in team history), hit two game-winning buzzer-beaters -- his second on Jan. 2 in Oklahoma City turned the season around -- and scored 29 points in the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 16. The Nets went 15-5 in games in which he scored 20 or more points.

“He’s carried the load for us all year,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.

In 2012-13, Johnson was heavily counted on to provide scoring. But this season, his role changed a bit. Johnson, known for his ability to deliver in isolation sets, averaged just 12.9 shots in 2013-14 -- his lowest since 2002-03.

“I think we’ve all had to sacrifice a little bit for the betterment of the team,” Johnson said. “We’ve done that. I think in this postseason we’re not gonna try to come out and do anything that we haven’t been doing. We’re gonna continue to play together, play hard and keep sacrificing so we can keep moving along.”

Perhaps the biggest key to Johnson’s success was his willingness to buy into Kidd’s system from the beginning. In the absence of Brook Lopez (season-ending foot injury), Johnson has become one of the team’s main threats in the post, using his size (6-foot-7, 240 pounds) either to take advantage of smaller guards or facilitate the offense and get one of his teammates an easy basket.

“It didn’t take me long; I’m an easy-going kind of guy,” Johnson said. “If you’re gonna tell me something that’s gonna help us out, then I’m willing to do it.”

For all the talk about Johnson's never living up to the massive six-year, $119 million contract he received from the Atlanta Hawks in 2010, or how he can’t be relied on as a No. 1 option, the native of Little Rock, Ark., has emerged as arguably the best late-game player in the entire NBA.

Over the last two seasons, in the final minute of games in which the Nets were tied or trailing by three points or fewer, Johnson is 13 for 16 from the field with four game-winning buzzer-beaters.

Hence the nickname: Joe Jesus.

“He might not be there when you call on him, but he’s there when you need him,” Garnett said.

The Nets were 10-21 when Johnson’s behind-the-back fadeaway jumper beat the Thunder. They have gone 34-17 since.

"What year was that? 2014? That was a good year,” Kidd joked. “I think that's just Joe. You go back to the Phoenix game [on Nov. 15]. He drove the length of the court, made the floater [to win the game at the buzzer]. There was no emotion. It was just: The game is over. Let's go get ready to play the Clippers.

“Most guys like to a dance, most guys like to celebrate, but Joe just moves on. When Joe made that shot, it was just everybody expected him to make it. And he delivered. And he loves that stage, and that's something we can lean on in the playoffs. I think it kinda kick-started our season."

Johnson put the team on his back during a stretch in mid-January; became the first Net in five years to win Eastern Conference Player of the Week in late March; and closed out the regular season by averaging 18.2 points and 50.2 percent shooting in his last 18 games.

“Last year was fun, but I think this year has been a bit more special because of where we started to where we’ve gotten to now,” Johnson said.

Johnson has played in 69 career playoff games, averaging 16.7 points and 41.4 percent shooting. But he’s never appeared in an NBA Finals before.

The sixth-seeded Nets, who will face the third-seeded Toronto Raptors in the first round (Game 1 is Saturday), certainly aren’t the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference, but given their dominance over the Miami Heat and the way the Indiana Pacers sputtered down the stretch, who knows. They’re certainly better equipped to get there this season than they were a year ago.

“I would say so,” Johnson said. “I think because we got the experience and guys have been through the trenches of the playoffs to help us get to where we’re trying to get to, so I think we have what it takes to be the last team standing.”

'Joe Jesus' answers Nets' call in the clutch

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
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DALLAS -- Joe Johnson came to the rescue again for the Brooklyn Nets as they gutted out a gritty 107-104 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Johnson scored five of his team-high 22 points in overtime, including a 3-pointer with 3:57 remaining that gave Brooklyn a lead it would never relinquish.

The Nets needed his heroics just to get to overtime. After Dirk Nowitzki shot an air ball on a fadeway, Johnson drove for a layup to tie the score at 91-all. Monta Ellis missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation.

"We love giving the ball to Joe, Joe loves having the ball," Nets coach Jason Kidd said after the victory. "Joe has been doing that for us all season. That's why he's an All-Star and one of the best at what he does."

[+] EnlargeJoe Johnson
AP Photo/LM OteroJoe Johnson nailed big shots in his 22-point effort.
Nicknamed "Joe Jesus" by Kevin Garnett, Johnson has delivered in the clutch for his team. Over the past two seasons, Johnson is 7-for-7 in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime when his team is tied or behind by three points or less. This season he is 3-for-3 with two game-winning buzzer-beaters (Nov. 15 in Phoenix and Jan. 1 in Oklahoma City).

"He's clutch, man," guard Deron Williams said of Johnson's ability to deliver. "That's the reason the ball is in his hands at the end of games."

Putting him in a situation to succeed has definitely correlated to success for the Nets. Brooklyn is now 14-4 this season when he scores at least 20 points in a game.

"I just wanted to be aggressive," Johnson said of his performance. "The coaching staff, my teammates were running plays to get me the ball. I just wanted to be effective and make plays."

Just like any scorer, Johnson revels in having the ball in his hands at the end of the game with the game still up for grabs.

"Those are moments I really relish and I love," Johnson said.

In addition to Johnson's heroics, the Nets needed defense, trust and composure to secure the win. They went on a 14-0 run (from the 1:36 mark of the third quarter through the 10:09 mark of the fourth) to turn a 72-59 deficit into a 73-72 advantage. Their defense on Nowitzki allowed them to get back into the game down the stretch. Nowitzki finished the night with 10 points on 2-of-12 shooting. He was 1-of-10 in regulation, including a couple missed, one-legged fadeaways as the Mavericks tried to nurse their lead down the stretch.

The double-teams on Nowitzki from when the two squads met back in January continued to come in this matchup. The mixed coverages, even with smaller lineups, caused Nowitzki to lose his aggression.

"I kind of hesitated too much and I was kind of always waiting on the double-team, instead of just playing my game," Nowitzki said.

Nowitzki only shot 7-of-27 from the field against the Nets this season. Kidd took the conservative approach when grading his team's defensive effort on Nowitzki.

"We got lucky," Kidd said. "Against talented players like Dirk, you just hope that they miss. Guys made it extremely tough. We showed him different looks, gave him different guys on him. He had some great looks that he usually makes. Again, we just got lucky tonight."

Brooklyn's defense certainly bent but didn't break against Dallas, setting the stage for Johnson to do what he does best in the clutch: deliver.

Nets make Simmons' list for worst contracts

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
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NetsJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesBrook Lopez, left, Deron Williams, right, and Joe Johnson are a waste of money, says Simmons.
Grantland’s Bill Simmons has put out his annual list of the 30 worst contracts in the NBA -- and, once again, the Brooklyn Nets are featured prominently.

Writes Simmons:

21. Brook Lopez: three years, $47.2 million
Total bummer. I don’t feel good about this. But when you’re a big guy coming off multiple foot breaks and you just underwent a risky foot surgery that saved Zydrunas Ilguaskas’s career but failed to save Yao Ming’s career … you’re on the list. Sorry.

5. Deron Williams: four years, $81.59 million


4. Joe Johnson: three years, $69.54 million
The combined points-per-game, PER, salaries and ages of two different backcourt tandems from these past three seasons.

BACKCOURT A
2011-12: 39.8 PPG … 38.7 PER … $34.4 million … 57 years old
2012-13: 35.2 PPG … 34.4 PER … $36.9 million … 59 years old
2013-14: 28.3 PPG … 30.7 PER … $39.9 million … 61 years old

BACKCOURT B
2011-12: 27.2 PPG … 28.9 PER … $4.6 million … 45 years old
2012-13: 33.2 PPG … 35.2 PER … $5.6 million … 47 years old
2013-14: 33.2 PPG … 30.6 PER … $8.6 million … 49 years old

Backcourt A? Deron and Joe.

Backcourt B? Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.

How do you say “Holy schnikes!” in Russian? For the 2015-16 season, Brooklyn already has $62.68 million committed to Johnson, Williams and a might-never-be-the-same Lopez. And Boston has its unprotected first-rounders in 2016 and 2018, with a right to swap in 2017.17 I’m starting to think you can’t run an NBA team while living in Russia. As Mark Felten from Sterling Heights wonders, “At what point do you stop calling Mikhail Prokhorov ‘Mutant Russian Mark Cuban’ and start calling him ‘Mutant Russian Ted Stepien?’”


Johnson nets 5 of East's 163 points in ASG

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
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Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson had five points in 10 minutes in Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game.

Johnson, selected as an Eastern Conference reserve to the surprise of many, including himself, went 2-for-7 from the field (1-for-6 from 3-point range).

The East beat the West, 163-155, in New Orleans.

Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, had just 11 points in Saturday night’s 3-point Shootout -- the lowest total of any participant in the contest.

Rookie Mason Plumlee had 20 points, seven rebounds, four steals and a block in Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge.

The Nets (24-27) resume their seven-game road trip Wednesday night in Utah.

Johnson named an All-Star reserve

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
7:46
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[+] EnlargeBrooklyn Nets
Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsJoe Johnson will make his seventh All-Star appearance.
Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson was named an All-Star for the seventh time in his career Thursday night.

Johnson was selected as a reserve by the Eastern Conference coaches.

In 42 games this season, Johnson is averaging 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33.7 minutes. He is shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 38.6 percent from 3-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw stripe.

Johnson has been Brooklyn’s most consistent player all season. He has hit two game-winning buzzer-beaters (Nov. 15 in Phoenix and Jan. 2 in Oklahoma City), and he drained a career-high 10 3-pointers Dec. 16 against Philadelphia.

Johnson tweeted that he was glad to make the team.



Lowry's teammate, Patrick Patterson, tweeted that he didn't think Johnson should've made it over Kyle Lowry.




Rounding out the East reserves: Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap, Joakim Noah and John Wall.

The 63rd NBA All-Star Game takes place in New Orleans on Feb. 16.

Many will likely argue that Kyle Lowry (16.8 ppg, 7.6 apg, 4.3 rpg) and Lance Stephenson (14.2 ppg, 5.3 apg, 7.1 rpg) were more worthy candidates than Johnson, but it doesn’t matter.

Between them, the Nets have now made a combined 37 All-Star teams: Kevin Garnett (15), Paul Pierce (10), Johnson (seven), Deron Williams (three), Brook Lopez (one) and Andrei Kirilenko (one).

Johnson previously made the All-Star team six times as an Atlanta Hawk.

Joe puts on a show in London

January, 16, 2014
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LONDON -- Sir Paul McCartney looked pretty happy with the view near courtside at The 02 Arena to witness the Brooklyn Nets' 127-110 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

But after watching Joe Johnson maintain his current hot streak, it was left to Kevin Garnett to declare: “I’ve got the best seat in the house.”

Johnson torched the Hawks, with 15 of his game-high 29 points coming in the opening quarter, as the Nets flashed early and eventually pulled away to retain their unbeaten all-time record in London.

Of course, being 3-0 here matters little. Being 16-22 this season matters a lot. But with Brooklyn now claiming six wins from their past seven games, the long flight home will seem a little less wearing than they could have imagined a month ago.

With owner Mikhail Prokhorov in attendance, they set season-highs for assists (38) and field goals (53). But it was Johnson, averaging 23 points over his last four games, who shone brightest in front of a sellout crowd of 18,689.

[+] EnlargeJoe Johnson
Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty ImagesJoe Johnson scored a game-high 29 points in the Nets' win over the Hawks Thursday at The O2 Arena.
“We just exploited the mismatches,” he said. “I was feeding off these guys for a while, taking the catch-and-shoot, guys getting in the lane. We played off Paul [Pierce] a lot in the second quarter with him posting up, and me just playing going weak side, getting great ball movement and taking good shots.”

Some were audacious, especially early on when Atlanta was shut down on the perimeter but had problems returning the favor. Then at the end of the third period, Johnson drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer that received an appreciative cheer.

Consistency is what the Nets need from the six-time All Star who is second to Shaun Livingston in games played this season on a roster that has not had a single night without someone on the sidelines.

But Johnson declared: “There’s no pressure at all. I just try to come and take what the defense gives me. And I think my coaches, my teammates, we do a great job of helping each other out, which makes the game a lot easier.”

That will remain the formula going forward, confirmed Nets coach Jason Kidd, who believes anything his team loses defensively by going with a smaller lineup can be offset by the offensive gains.

And if Johnson can maintain his pace when the Nets head to Madison Square Garden on Monday to take on the New York Knicks, then Pierce and Garnett will be only too happy to let him shoulder the load.

“As players, me and Kevin, we had days where we’ve been hot but we’ve been the only players on that team,” Pierce said.

“Now we have a teammate who, while he’s in the zone, it's fun to watch that and feed off that. Because you’ve been used to being that career your whole career or parts of your career.

“So to have a teammate who can do that, it’s fun.”

London’s (NB)A-List: The NBA always attracts a heavy list of celebrities for its annual visit to the British capital, but few can match the resume of Paul McCartney. The Beatle even sprung up during a T-shirt giveaway but looked amused when a spontaneous chorus of "Hey Jude" began when he appeared on the giant screen.

There were audible screams at the appearance of One Direction singer Liam Payne, while there was an inevitable mix of boos and cheers for the large contingent of footballers from Arsenal and Chelsea.

Curiously, a wave of sympathetic applause arrived when Hawks guard Kyle Korver finally extended his NBA record to 108 straight games with a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Having held him to 1-for-9 shooting, it was a rare blip on an otherwise satisfying trip for the Nets.

Nets thank god for 'Joe Jesus'

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
11:46
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets have a nickname for their last-second lord and savior, Joe Johnson.

They call him “Joe Jesus.”

[+] EnlargeJoe Johnson
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJoe Johnson saved the Nets again.
“He might not be there when you call on him,” Kevin Garnett explained. “But he’s there when you need him.”

Johnson, who has hit two game-winning buzzer-beaters for the Nets this season, had been shooting just 30 percent and averaging a mere 7.0 points in his previous five games.

But on Monday night, he erupted for a game-high 23 points -- nine of them in the fourth quarter -- leading Brooklyn to a 91-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center.

“Shooting is an art, man. And I’ve been doing a lot of aiming, really trying to make it instead of just shooting it,” said Johnson, who finished 10-for-22 from the field. “In that fourth quarter, that’s what Jason Terry kept telling me: ‘Just shoot the ball.’”

And that’s exactly what Johnson did.

With the Nets down 78-77, Johnson ignited a go-ahead 7-0 run with a 3-pointer and capped it with a 14-foot fadeaway. He later knocked down a 10-footer and hit a pair of free throws to clinch the win.

“[Coach] Jason [Kidd] told me I was gonna have to pick it up,” Johnson said. “He told me in the fourth quarter when I came back in that he wanted me to be assertive and make plays and take over the game, and that’s what I was trying to do.”

Johnson’s performance came at a crucial time, considering the Nets were without Deron Williams (left ankle).

“Well, we leaned on him a little bit tonight,” Kidd said. “With Deron out, we went to him a lot more and he responded. He had a lot of great looks. He understands time and score. He hit some big shots down the stretch for us.”

Johnson's touch has gone on hiatus

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Joe Johnson is in one of those shooting funks.

In his last five games, Johnson is connecting at a 30-percent clip from the field (15-for-50) and a 17.4-percent clip from 3-point range (4-for-23). He hasn’t attempted a free throw in his last four games.

Johnson’s last double-digit scoring game? Christmas Day. He had 12 points.

Johnson says he’s getting good looks. They just aren’t going in.

“Yeah, shots I normally make, I haven’t made in the past few games. I’ll get back to that tomorrow night,” Johnson said.

Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd agrees.

“He’s getting the same looks. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t,” Kidd said. “For a scorer, you just have to keep working and getting extra shots in as he has, and work through it. Every player goes through it during an 82-game season. Shots might not fall for you, you just have to keep plugging through it.”

Of course, this stretch would look a lot worse had Johnson not hit that ridiculous buzzer-beater in Oklahoma City Thursday night.

“For our team, yeah. It’s a win, a tough win on the road against a team who they have lost one game in their building this year, so it can be a confidence builder, and it can be a good thing for us moving forward,” Johnson said. “We came home and handled business last night and won against Cleveland, so we got a tough game coming Monday against Atlanta, a team that’s been playing very well.”

Johnson’s shot hasn’t been falling, but he’s been trying to make things happen in other facets of his game.

“Well, even if I’m not shooting well I’m still going to get doubled if I post, so I’m still able to make plays defensively, I’m still able to go out and guard the toughest player on the offensive team, so I’m not limited to just making shots,” he said.

The good news for the Nets, though, is that Deron Williams and Paul Pierce have been playing well, flourishing in a smaller lineup.

“I don’t know if there’s a remedy for us in this New Year, but I haven’t been playing well,” Johnson said. “But other guys have been carrying the load, making plays, and we’ve been winning.”

Nets' offensive O begins with D-Will

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
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Throughout what has become a $190 million mess of a season, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd has never seemed too concerned about his team’s offense.

Well, maybe he should be.

The Nets have pretty much never been able to defend, rebound or survive the third quarter.

But now it also seems like Deron Williams looks uncomfortable running the offense. And let’s be honest here: Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson should not play together.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Nets looked good at half before unraveling in the third and fourth quarters.
Pierce, who had gone 5-for-26 from the field in his previous three games, scored 18 points in the Nets’ 105-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

But Williams had a very pedestrian 14 points and six assists, while Johnson went 4-for-12 from the field and had four turnovers.

“That’s been our season,” Kidd told reporters in Indiana. “One or two of our guys are going, and we can’t get the others to join. ... Paul was going, he just needed someone to join him.”

It finally appeared that Williams was over all the injuries that have plagued his tenure with the Nets. Maybe he is. But lately, he isn’t playing like it. In his last four games, Williams is averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.5 turnovers on 48.7 percent shooting.

Since Pierce has returned to the starting lineup (two games), Johnson is 6-for-24 from the field.

All three players need the ball in their hands to be successful. But Williams is the one in his prime, the one making max money, the one who needs to carry the Nets to the playoffs with Brook Lopez out due to a season-ending foot injury. So it’s time for Kidd to put his franchise point guard in the best position to be successful -- and that means splitting up Pierce and Johnson, which worked quite well for awhile.

Just look at these two-man lineup net ratings (offense/defense), according to NBA.com:

Pierce/Johnson: minus-4.2 in 478 minutes (96.0/100.2)
Johnson/Williams: plus-3.2 in 451 minutes (105.7/102.6)
Pierce/Williams: plus-0.1 in 342 minutes (101.1/101.0)

Saturday night’s game was just the latest example. On a number of occasions, it appeared as though Williams had open lanes for jumpers or layups, but he deferred to his teammates. He needs to stop doing that, take over games and get his confidence back.

“We’re an easy team to guard right now,” Pierce said, according to the New York Times.

The Nets (10-20) fought like hell against the Pacers (24-5) in the first half, then fell apart in the third (28-20), a common pattern for the team. A 58-56 game became an 86-76 game, and that was it. Brooklyn is 0-18 when trailing after three quarters.

“We’ve talked about [the third quarter struggles]. We’ve left it alone. But it’s something that we’ve gotta address,” Kidd said.

Defensively, the Nets failed to get stops. Lance Stephenson (23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) and Paul George (24 points) got whatever they wanted. George Hill (21 points) frequently scored when guarded by Williams.

Overall, the Pacers, who are 3-0 against the Nets this season, shot 53.5 percent. They won the rebounding battle (41-28) and the points in the paint battle (42-34), too. Brooklyn is 0-15 when giving up more than 100 points.

“We didn’t make them uncomfortable on the perimeter,” Kidd said.

It’s not going to get any easier for the Nets, who next face the San Antonio Spurs (23-7) on New Year’s Eve. Then, they get the Oklahoma City Thunder (24-5) two nights later.

In the altered words of former minority owner Jay Z, the Nets used to have 99 problems, but offense wasn’t one.

Not anymore, it seems.

“We played for a half,” Kidd said. “The effort was there. But then in the third quarter, once we got down 10 ... it seemed like the guys felt like we were down 20.”

Same story, different night for Nets

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
12:17
AM ET


NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony may have thought the New York Knicks were the “laughingstock of the NBA” going into Thursday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, but that’s no longer the case.

That distinction now belongs to the Nets, who were obliterated by the Knicks 113-83 Thursday night at Barclays Center.

You would’ve thought the $190 million Nets would’ve played with more sense of urgency knowing their hated rivals from across the East River had lost nine in a row.

They didn’t. As usual, typical Nets basketball prevailed. The Nets (5-14) have now lost 12 of their last 15 games.

“It hurts big regardless of who we’re playing,” Joe Johnson said. “This loss here is not more significant than another loss. We just can’t seem to get a win in our building. It’s been embarrassing at this point.”

The Nets came in as the league’s worst team in terms of 3-point defense and average third-quarter scoring margin.

They came out just the same.

The Knicks (4-13) drained a season-high 16 3-pointers and shot 57.1 percent overall. They outscored the Nets 34-16 in the third, turning what was sort of a close game into another blowout. Brooklyn is now 1-13 when losing the third and has been outscored by 102 points in the quarter this season.

New York led by as many as 34. Boos rained down from the rafters throughout the second half and faint “Fire Kidd!” chants could be heard late in the fourth with the game well out of reach.

“It’s not ideal. It’s not ideal,” Kevin Garnett said. “Nothing just went our way from the giddy up. They came out fast. The first quarter it seemed like they made everything [70.6 percent], and it seemed like we were playing catchup from that minute on.”

(Read full post)

Nets survive Raptors for much-needed win

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
11:25
PM ET


The way Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd reacted, putting his hands on top of his head, you would’ve thought his team had just lost.

Not so.

The Nets were on the verge of blowing a 15-point lead Tuesday night, and as Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson let a wide-open 3-pointer fly from the corner in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, all Kidd could think about was Washington Wizards center Nene’s game-tying tip-in at the end of regulation on Nov. 8.

The Nets ended up losing that game in overtime. They didn’t lose this one.

[+] EnlargeJason Kidd
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesJason Kidd's Nets held on to top the Raptors, moving within two games of Toronto in the division race.
Johnson missed, forward Steve Novak's tip-in at the buzzer didn’t go either, and the Nets survived, snapping a five-game skid with a 102-100 victory over the Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

And yet, if you missed all that and just saw Kidd, you wouldn’t have known that was the outcome.

“It was more I thought Amir had a great look,” Kidd told reporters in Toronto after the game. “I thought that was the one that was gonna hurt us.”

It didn’t.

The Nets played terrific basketball for the first 44 minutes and 47 seconds. They won the game in the third quarter, when they outscored the Raptors 26-25. Then they nearly gave it away.

With the Nets ahead 101-86 and 3:13 remaining, Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor fouled Novak as he was hoisting a 3-pointer. Novak drained all three ensuing free throws, and the Raptors outscored the Nets 14-1 the rest of the way.

“The last three minutes were almost a disaster,” Nets forward Paul Pierce said. “Against good teams, we have to be better. But at the end of the day, we needed to get some confidence and get in the win column, and this was big for us.”

[+] EnlargeJoe Johnson
Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty ImagesJoe Johnson scored 21 points Tuesday to help lead Brooklyn to its first win in six games.
With point guard Deron Williams (ankle), center Brook Lopez (ankle), forward Andrei Kirilenko (back) and guard Jason Terry (knee) all out again due to injury, center Andray Blatche and shooting guard Joe Johnson stepped up. Blatche led the way with 24 points, while Johnson added 21.

Pierce, who had gone 12-for-47 from the field in his previous four games, chipped in 16, and power forward Kevin Garnett finished in double-digit scoring for just the second time this season (12). The Nets outscored the Wizards 48-28 in the paint and shot 50.6 percent from the field.

Despite all the adversity it has faced so early in the season, Brooklyn (4-10, 2-7 away) now trails Toronto (6-8) by just two games in the Atlantic Division.

“Winning cures everything, and hopefully it can be the start of something,” Johnson said.

The Nets led 55-51 at the half. But anyone who’s watched this team play all season knows that what happens in the third quarter decides the game. The Nets came in 0-10 when losing the third. They were outscored in the quarter by 19 on Sunday afternoon.

Not this time.

“Those guys in the locker room said they had enough,” Kidd said.

“At halftime we didn’t say anything about the third quarter,” Johnson added. “We shouldn’t even talk about it [from now on].”

The Nets were desperate for a win -- and that’s exactly what they got.

Nets flame out, Kidd takes blame

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
12:44
AM ET


NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd accepted responsibility for his team’s 108-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night at Barclays Center.

“Just bad coaching,” Kidd said after his $190 million team fell to 3-7 on the young season and was booed by the crowd throughout the fourth quarter. “I take the blame for this. Guys play hard; we got a little stagnant on the offensive end. This falls on my shoulders. We got off to a good start and then in the third quarter we came out a little flat and that falls on me.”

[+] EnlargeJason Kidd
AP Photo/Kathy WillensThis is not how new Nets coach Jason Kidd expected his rookie season in Brooklyn to start out.
The Nets, who have lost five of their last six games, shot a blistering 73.7 percent and scored a season-high 40 points in the first quarter. But their offense went into the tank after that. In the final three quarters, the Nets shot just 25.8 percent. Brooklyn, which once led by as many as 11, eventually trailed by as many as 14.

As they have all season, the Nets lost the game in the third quarter. They went just 3-for-18 from the field in the frame, while being outscored 27-15. Brooklyn is 0-7 in 2013-14 when losing the third; 3-0 when winning it.

Defensively, the Nets allowed the Blazers to shoot 53.9 percent from the field. LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points), Damian Lillard (19 points) and Wesley Matthews (24 points) all had huge nights.

“I don’t know if it’s what Portland did,” Kidd said. “We had some great looks on offense and we didn’t score. Again, if we don’t score, we need to play the other side and tonight that falls on me not having the guys ready to play to start the second half.”

The Nets were playing without point guard Deron Williams (sprained left ankle), center Brook Lopez (sprained left ankle) and reserve forward Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms), who all missed the game due to injury. There is “no timetable” on any of those players, Kidd said.

Power forward Kevin Garnett (sprained right ankle) and small forward Paul Pierce (sore left groin) returned to the lineup after missing Saturday night’s game. Garnett got off to a fast start, hitting his first six shots but ended up 8-for-19 from the field with a season-high 16 points and eight rebounds. Pierce was mostly ineffective, finishing with 11 points on 2-for-12 shooting. Garnett and Pierce were seen leaving the arena at around 11:20 p.m. Trainer Tim Walsh wasn’t far behind. It’s possible both players were receiving treatment.

After the game, the locker room didn’t open for 15 minutes and the only players to address the media were Jason Terry, Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee; Tornike Shengelia, who rarely plays, was also available. About an hour later, the team’s public relations staff let reporters know that no one else would be talking.

Terry wouldn’t say the Nets had a team meeting but did say, “It was just guys reflecting. Just realizing that we let another opportunity slip. But we’ll figure this thing out, and there are brighter days ahead. I guarantee that.”

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesDid Paul Pierce -- who shot 2-for-12 against the Blazers -- see the writing on the wall in Brooklyn?
Asked about his level of concern, Terry said, “Patience is what it is. There is no timetable [for us to turn it around]. We don’t know. We’d like it to happen sooner than later, but No. 1, you have to get healthy. You’re missing your key big man and your star point guard, s---, I don’t know how much success you're going to have without that. But again, it’s what we’re faced with. We’d rather have it happen now than later, obviously, so we’re just gonna keep grinding and get through it.”

The Nets came into the season with aspirations of winning a championship. They knew it was going to be tough, though, because they were incorporating seven new players and a rookie head coach. Age was their biggest question mark. Would they stay healthy? How quickly would they find chemistry?

So far, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. With the exception of Lopez, their stars haven’t played like stars. Williams’ Player Efficiency Rating is below the league average. Garnett is shooting 32.6 percent. Joe Johnson has missed 40 of his last 58 shots. The Nets currently rank 19th in offensive efficiency and 25th in defensive efficiency. Injuries have obviously already taken a toll.

But they aren’t ready to panic. Not by any means.

“It’s a process. We still have a ways to go,” Kidd said. “We have quite a few games left, but we got to prepare tomorrow, get some work in on the defensive end. Again, as the coach, we got some work to do.”

Added Terry: “You don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but when it does, it’s gonna be special. And I believe that.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8