Joe Johnson, Welcome Back To Crunch Time

It’s hard to imagine a world where Joe Johnson is left wide open for a corner three in crunch time. But it was also hard to imagine two weeks ago that the Nets would be a half-game out of the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and here we are.

“If there’s one guy you want open at the end of the game, that is the guy,” Brook Lopez said, “and they left him open.”

Shortly after Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert airballed a three-point attempt of his own, the Nets set up on the other side of the court, in a play Brook Lopez said he did not remember. The team spaced the floor, and Lopez set up for a pick-and-roll with Johnson.

But things went awry.

“It was kind of a (broken down) play,” Johnson said. “I came off the pick-and-roll, thought I had a wide open jumper, then Hibbert contested, and kind of got out of whack.”

Hibbert’s contest forced the ball out of Johnson’s hands and into Lopez, a talented scorer who had taken just one field goal in the entire second half up to that point. No one would have blamed Lopez for taking that shot, after catching the ball with five seconds on the clock.

But Hibbert and Johnson’s man, Solomon Hill, both raced at Lopez, leaving Johnson open in the right corner. It was a tradeoff between teammates. “I found Brook, and I relocated, and Brook found me,” Johnson said.

“It was just one of those helter-skelter plays.”

The Nets are in the midst of a chaotic season, beating teams well above their talent grade and dropping what looked like sure wins. So it’s no surprise that the biggest shot of the game came off a broken play.

The shot put the Nets up 108-100 with 15.4 seconds left, all but sealing the victory. The Nets went on to win, 111-106.