Joe Johnson had a little bit of magic left in his bag of tricks. The aging star, who has endured a forgettable season up to this point, displayed his vintage form in a 110-104 win over the rival New York Knicks. Johnson poured in 14 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.
What separated Johnson on Wednesday night in front of a sellout Barclays crowd was the clutch shot that earned him the moniker, “Joe Jesus”. With the Nets up by two and 1:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, Johnson knocked down back-to-back jumpers to propel the Nets in front of the Knicks. Johnson finished the game shooting 6-for-12 from the field in 38:47.
Wednesday night was not an isolated incident, either. Johnson has averaged 14.7 PPG in his last seven contests while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. He has converted 14-of-28 from three-range during that time period.
“It was fun,” Johnson said. “We ran the pick-and-roll really well and just got what we wanted. Whether it was a shot out of the pick-and-roll or a dump down, they we’re leaving the shooters. We took advantage of that.”
The Nets can typically count on solid contributions from Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, but getting another comparable game has proven to be a difficult task. When Johnson gives interim head coach Tony Brown reliable minutes, the Nets can remain close in most games. Lopez scored a team-high 20 points and added eight rebounds, while Young notched his team-leading 19th double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
“They fed off of Joe, Joe fed off of Brook, who fed off of Shane (Larkin),” Brown said. “We seemed to have a better flow with our offense, and defensively, down the stretch, I thought that was one of our better stretches defending and not giving up as much easy stuff that we gave [the Knicks] earlier in the game.”
Brooklyn was also buoyed by 17 points off the bench from point guard Larkin and 14 from Bojan Bogdanovic. Heading into the game, Bogdanovic had made just 2-for-18 from three over the last five games. He converted on four of his five attempts against the Knicks, though.
As a team, the Nets shot 52.3 percent from the field and 52.9 percent of its three-pointers, knocking down 9-of-17 from distance. The Nets also closed the game with 36 points in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a little passion,” Brown said. “I thought they were excited to play in the second half, especially down the stretch. They fed off of each other. That was wonderful–the first time in a long time we saw that with this team.”
With the win, the Nets moved to 11-28 on the season and snapped their 10-game losing streak at Barclays. Brooklyn went over a month without winning on its home floor, registering its last win on December 10 against the Philadelphia 76ers. They will look to create a streak of two Friday night when the Portland Trail Blazers head east.