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Friday, November 16, 2012
Johnson delivers points, win in crunch time

By Mike Mazzeo

Joe Johnson came into the fourth quarter of the Thursday night’s game against the Boston Celtics 3-for-13 from the field.

But that didn’t deter the Brooklyn Nets’ closer from shooting -- and delivering -- in crunch time.

Johnson went 3-for-6 from the field in the final period, and scored seven points in the final 3:02 to lift the Nets past the Celtics, 102-97, at Barclays Center.

Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson has scored 25 points over his past two fourth quarters.
“Down the stretch, I thrive in moments like that,” Johnson said, who shot just 6-for-19 overall, but finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “And the coaching staff and my teammates have done a great job of putting me in position to make plays.”

With the score tied at 87, Johnson, operating out of isolation, hit a pair of tough fadeaway jumpers over Brandon Bass (baseline) and Paul Pierce (wing) to give the Nets a 91-87 lead.

“We ran a play that he’s familiar with, where he likes to get the ball in the middle of the floor, and he made plays for us,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “When a guy is struggling -- I think he was 2-for-10 at one time -- and when you’re struggling like that, a lot of times we only remember what happens in the fourth quarter.

“A baseball player can go 0-for-3, but then he gets up in the ninth inning and hits a home run or a double to bring somebody in, that’s what you remember. And it’s the same thing tonight with Joe. He struggled a little bit, but I thought he did a good job of getting quality shots, his shots, and fortunately they went in the basket.”

When Nets GM Billy King acquired Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks in a blockbuster trade during the summer, he was hoping the six-time All-Star could be a go-to guy.

That’s exactly what Johnson was on Thursday night.

He may be shooting just 38.5 percent through the first seven games of the season, but Johnson has scored 25 points combined in his team’s last two fourth quarters.

Two victories followed.

“It’s definitely a role I like to play,” Johnson said of being the team’s closer. “In the last 4-5 minutes of the game, I love the ball in my hand.”