Saturday, November 16, 2013
JJ hits another buzzer-beating game winner
By Mike Mazzeo
Was there ever a doubt?
Because when the ball leaves Joey Clutch's hands and the clock reads 0:00, at this point, it's pretty much a guarantee.
Joe Johnson sinks the game-winning basket.
It's going in.
So it came as no surprise when Joe Johnson hit another buzzer-beating game winner -- his third since joining the Brooklyn Nets -- Friday night in Phoenix.
The Nets were desperate. Desperate to snap their three-game losing streak. Desperate for their first road victory of the season.
And Johnson gave it to them.
As time expired in overtime, Johnson hit a transition floater over Suns 7-footer Channing Frye, giving Brooklyn a wild 100-98 win at U.S. Airways Center.
"We played a hard-fought game," Johnson told YES Network after the game. "We were very resilient tonight."
You better believe it.
Johnson was just 5-for-18 when he let the ball go. But given his track record, you knew.
You had to know. The Nets were getting the W.
"We needed this one very badly," Johnson said. "We were a very desperate team tonight and we had guys who were tired and gave everything they had."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Johnson has five buzzer-beaters since 2007-08, the most in the NBA.
Johnson, who logged a team-high 45 minutes, also hit buzzer-beaters as a Net on Dec. 14, 2012 and Feb. 19, 2013.
"I felt like I lost a little weight," head coach Jason Kidd joked. "It was a big win."
The Nets (3-5, 1-4 away) rallied from a 14-point deficit and then blew a 13-point lead.
It was actually Johnson who got them into the extra session, hitting a nine-footer with 29 seconds left to tie the game at 92.
Deron Williams sprained his left ankle with 7:20 remaining in the first quarter and didn't return (X-rays were negative), but Shaun Livingston stepped up in his place, scoring 18 points and dishing out six assists in 37 minutes. Brook Lopez had 25 of his 27 points in the second half and overtime. Kevin Garnett had a season-high 14 rebounds.
But ultimately it was Joey Clutch who came up with yet another clutch bucket -- and allowed the Nets to breathe a sigh of relief.
Even if they come out flat Saturday night in Los Angeles -- when KG and Paul Pierce face former coach Doc Rivers for the first time -- at least they'll have this win.
"It's going to be fun," Pierce said. "Both of us went our separate ways. Just to get a chance to play against him, I know a lot of things that he likes to run offensively and defensively, so maybe we can use that as an advantage. But on the flip side, he knows my game and he knows KG's game inside and out.
"Definitely [it's going to be strange] just to look over and not take instruction from him for the first time. I think me and Doc were together close to 10 years, so it'll be a little different, but we'll always have that bond. We still talk from time to time."