While Joe Johnson is not as spry as when he first came to the Brooklyn Nets, he can still shoot the ball with anyone. Monday night at Barclays Center, Joe Jesus had a prayer answered against the Denver Nuggets.
With the Nets trailing 104-102 with 1.3 seconds remaining, Johnson received an in-bounds pass at the top of the arc and banked in an off-balance runner to clinch a 105-104 win. Brooklyn won its 14th game, and none have come in more dramatic fashion. The three-pointer came on the heels of Kenneth Faried’s running hook shot to put Denver ahead late.
“The play wasn’t designed for me because we were only down two, so it was designed to try to get Brook (Lopez) the ball in the paint to get a layup or easy deuce and go into overtime,” Johnson said. “I was wide open and Markel saw me, and I knew I had one-point something, so I knew I had enough to at least take a dribble, and I don’t even know how it went in.”
Johnson’s jumper marked his fifth buzzer-beating winner and the first since his shot beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 2, 2014. The veteran has seven such shots in his last 10 seasons, which are the most by a wide margin. Andre Iguodala and Monte Ellis rank are tied for second with four apiece.
“It was fun,” Johnson added. “Obviously, we’ve had a tough season, but to get some excitement like that out of a game was very exciting. I’m happy for the fans.”
During the game, Johnson moved past Scottie Pippen into 52nd place all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. He has tallied 18,949 career points and trails Dale Ellis by 55 points for 51st place.
Johnson scored 12 points and dished out eight assists in nearly 30 minutes, as interim head coach Tony Brown relied heavily on his bench. The Nets reserves compiled 44 points, led by Markel Brown’s career-high 19.
Thaddeus Young led the Nets with 20-points, and he has scored 20-plus points in consecutive games for the second time this season. He poured in 22 in a loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night.
“Give him credit, he made a hell of a shot,” Tony Brown said. “A one-legged bank shot from three is sure to be on some highlight reels tonight.”
The Nets led by as many as 16 points midway through the second quarter, while the Nuggets only pulled ahead by as many as three points midway through the fourth quarter. Rookie Chris McCullough played in his first NBA game Monday after sitting the first 52 games while rehabbing a knee injury he suffered at Syracuse.
“It just felt good to physically be out there, playing my game, doing what I do,” McCullough said. “I did that. It felt good to be out there. … My first wind was the hardest for me. After that, I was good.”
Brooklyn will play its final game before the All-Star break Wednesday night at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.