With less than 30 seconds remaining in a one-possession game, Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson has been nearly automatic this season, hitting 9 of his 10 shot attempts in that situation. It’s these shots that have made him the “go-to” player for the Brooklyn Nets in crunch time, even if that “go-to” usually results in timed isolation plays.
In Thursday night’s 92-90 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Nets had another opportunity with the game on the line — more than one, actually — and the ball, surprisingly, did not end up in Johnson’s hands once, instead going through Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, going without a bucket on their final three possessions.
Johnson, who finished the game with 12 points (9 in the fourth quarter) on 4-11 shooting, seemed unfazed when I asked him about not getting the ball in crunch time, and threw his support behind Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
“I’m not sure (why he didn’t get the ball),” Johnson said. “P.J.’s the coach, I ride with him 100 percent. He went with what he felt was best for this team. That’s P.J.’s. He drew up the play down the stretch, which don’t bother me not one bit.
“Deron (Williams) and Brook (Lopez) were rolling, and we just didn’t come up with the big play.”
Williams finished with 30 points on the night on 9-16 shooting, making some phenomenal drives to the basket in the fourth quarter en route to a 9-point final frame. Lopez finished with 28 points on 10-19 shooting, but turned the ball over and missed two shots on the final three Nets’ possessions.
Johnson was playing for the first time after missing five games with a quad contusion, time which he also used to rest his sore heel.
“I felt pretty good,” Johnson said about his return. “My wind isn’t where I would like it to be, but I felt pretty good. … I took a couple shots here and there in the first half, but in the second half I wanted to be a little bit more aggressive, go off the dribble, and I was able to do it a little bit.”