Do the Brooklyn Nets need a signature moment to give themselves a chance to turn their disappointing season around? If so, Joe Johnson may have provided it with his game-winning shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.
Johnson, who is one of the most clutch shooters in the NBA, hit an incredible off-balance shot as time expired to give the Nets a 95-93 win on the road. The fact that Serge Ibaka — one of the better defenders in the league — was in his face made the basket even more impressive.
Unfortunately, the win only improved Brooklyn to 11-21 on the season. It’s not too late to make a playoff push, but the Nets still have plenty of problems from their head coach right on down. If I was a Nets fan, I’d wait before getting too excited.
The New York Knicks suffered one of their most painful losses of the season on Tuesday night when they mismanaged the clock in the final seconds of the game. After the Washington Wizards took a one-point lead with 6.9 seconds remaining, the Knicks chose not to use one of their three remaining timeouts to advance the ball to half court. Carmelo Anthony settled for a wild 3-point attempt that was nowhere close.
After the game, head coach Mike Woodson admitted he messed up and should have called timeout. However, he seemed to defend himself a bit more on Tuesday. Woodson told reporters that when he coached the Atlanta Hawks, Joe Johnson had been able to execute that play without a timeout.
“I’m going to be honest. I’ve let games go like that,” Woodson said, via Marc Berman of the NY Post. “In Atlanta, I let a couple of games where I didn’t call a timeout because they weren’t set. We threw it in and Joe Johnson was able to dribble down and hit a winning shot. Was I thinking that at the time? Well, when Beno [Udrih] stepped out and Melo begged for it and he threw it to him, I didn’t stop the play. I let it go on. I should’ve called a timeout, taking it out of their hands and advance the basketball [to halfcourt], but I didn’t.”
Maybe I’m reading into it too much, but it seems like Woodson was trying to blame Carmelo by pointing out that he “begged” for the ball. He sounds like a coach who is claiming he wanted to give his superstar a chance to make a play without interrupting him.
In Woodson’s defense, Anthony and JR Smith both acknowledged after the loss that the players were just as responsible for not calling a timeout. Still, it seems ridiculous to allow a player to dribble all the way up the court with 6.9 seconds left when you have the ability to advance the ball to half court. It doesn’t matter how many times Joe Johnson has executed the play in his career.
The Brooklyn Nets have a star-filled roster this season, but head coach Jason Kidd believes Joe Johnson might be the team’s closer.
Kidd cited statistics when saying that Johnson might be the guy to get the final shot for the team, though he thinks the most important thing is to make the best basketball play.
“Well, if you’re into analytics, you would look at Joe Johnson as the clear-cut, of the guy taking the last-second shot. He was 9 for 10 with 24 seconds or less, so that would be your guy that could, who’s the closer,” Kidd said Tuesday, per The Brooklyn Game.
“But the game of basketball is something that, you put five guys out there and you draw up a play for your- for one player, most of the time it doesn’t end up being that one guy taking that shot. He creates a problem, which results in one of his teammates getting a wide open look, and make or miss, it’s the right basketball play. So for us, it’s about making the right basketball play at the end. But if you’re looking at stats, which a lot of you guys do, Joe Johnson is the name that comes first.”
In addition to Johnson, the Nets have proven stars like Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. All of those players are talented and have shown over the years that they can deliver at the end of games (some to more of an extent than others).
Maybe the stats are in Johnson’s favor, but I’m not sure he’s a better end-of-game option than Williams or Garnett. My guess is things will change depending on the situation.
Chest bump to Beyond the Buzzer
The Brooklyn Nets have been in existence for all of a whopping two and a half months, but that’s all it took for them to declare dominance in the state.
“Definitely Nets,” new acquisition Joe Johnson said when asked which basketball team was the best in New York, according to the New York Daily News. “Brooklyn Nets.”
Johnson was set up by the question and was speaking at a pep rally, so his answer was predictable. At least he didn’t get as boastful as the Miami Heat during their “Three Kings” intro party (not one, not two, not three …). And at least Johnson didn’t get as carried away as Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who really brought out the comparative crap talking.
“For nearly 40 years the Manhattan Knicks have shown they can’t bring a championship to New York, so it’s going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done,” Markowitz said. “So move over Manhattan — enough air balls. You had your chance.”
That’s about as strong of a burn as the one from the New Jersey governor who went off on the Nets for leaving the state.
The Knicks made a few moves including signing Jason Kidd and acquiring Marcus Camby, so they should be a playoff team again. The Nets are a better team on paper and should finish with a better record, but I’d be surprised if either team advanced past the second round of the playoffs. Still, it will be fun to watch the teams trade zingers over the years, with the New York tabloids providing a play-by-play and hyping up every angle.
“What the heck are the Nets thinking?” was the reaction from most people when they heard the Nets agreed to acquire Joe Johnson on Monday. Johnson signed a 6-year $119 million contract extension with the Hawks in 2010 and still has four years and about $89 million left on his deal. The 31-year-old still put up strong numbers for the Hawks last season, but his minutes have been down the past two years and he’s not a franchise player despite making max money.
So if the Nets were planning to offer max money to try and retain free agent Deron Williams, if they owe Gerald Wallace $10 million per season, and if they now owe Joe Johnson max money, how would they be able to afford to sign Dwight Howard to a maximum contract when he becomes a free agent next summer? They can’t, and that’s why many people felt the Nets were foolish to agree to the trade.
But fear not, Nets fans: the team can still make a trade for Dwight Howard.
Sheridan Hoops outlined a scenario in which the Nets could trade several players to the Magic for Dwight Howard. Chris Sheridan says the Nets could offer the Magic a package of Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks and multiple future first-round draft picks for Howard in what would be a sign-and-trade deal.
Howard reportedly has made it clear to Orlando that he wants out, and he’s also made it clear that the only team he’ll sign an extension with is the Nets. That takes away a lot of leverage for the Magic; why would a team give up a lot for Dwight if they’re only going to have him for one season? That would be a pretty foolish gamble for a team other than the Nets to take.
If Orlando eventually decides to trade Dwight Howard — which is likely — the best package they might be offered could come from Brooklyn. If Billy King can pull all this off for the Nets, then you’d have to put him in the same category of front office miracle worker as Pat Riley.
Photo credit: Jim O’Connor-US PRESSWIRE
Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson’s closet was profiled in the September 19th issue of ESPN the Magazine. The feature is called “What’s in Joe Johnson’s closet?” and the answer to that question is simple: a lot. Johnson had a custom-made 500-square-foot shoe closet constructed so he could display all his shoes.
“I just thought this would be a cool idea, and it would almost look like a museum,” Johnson told the Mag. “I had a fingerprint sensor put on the door to make sure I’m the only one who can get in here. I mostly wear Air Jordans. All of the Jordan guys are selected by Michael Jordan himself. It’s kind of hard to tell MJ no. I have 436 pairs of sneakers in here, and they’re mostly unworn. I’ll wear all of them eventually.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we call “Baller Status.” Throw up 21 points per game in the NBA and you too may be able to have your own shoe museum that’s larger than most people’s apartments. Chad Ochocinco’s bedroom aquarium is jealous.
Fist pound to Jocks and Stiletto Jill for the story
The Knicks have done everything possible to position themselves for improvement beginning next year. They acquired Tracy McGrady from the Rockets — not for his random DNPs due to knee problems — but for his expiring contract. With around just $18 million in salaries committed for next season, they’re in position to load up on free agents this summer. While Donnie Walsh may have thought that clearing cap space was the biggest obstacle for the Knicks, he may have discovered that convincing free agents to play in the Big Apple is their biggest challenge. Take what Hawks star guard and upcoming free agent Joe Johnson said prior to his Monday night game in New York:
“I don’t think one guy can turn the whole franchise around…I think two guys would be more attractive … I can’t backtrack. I can’t go into a situation where when I first got here to Atlanta.”
When Joe Johnson signed with Atlanta, they were coming off a 13-69 season. It took three years before they made the playoffs (with a 37-45 record), and it wasn’t until Johnson’s fourth and fifth years with the club that they started winning. Johnson’s comments are reflective of most players’ sentiments: they want to go somewhere with an opportunity to win. The Knicks don’t present that opportunity at the moment and they wouldn’t even be more than a good playoff team if they added LeBron. They need two of the following combination to be a potential title team: LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amare, Johnson or Dirk. They really need LeBron and Wade but that would be quite a task to pull off. Losing by 20 at home to the Nets and going 0-for-18 on three pointers doesn’t help your effort either.
Alan Hahn’s twitter via Rotoworld