Joe Johnson has been struggling lately, but with the game tied and 5.8 seconds to play the Brooklyn Nets elected to go to him for the final shot and he came through with the jumper at the buzzer to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-93 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday.
“I didn’t think he was struggling,” Jason Kidd said when asked if there was any hesitation to give Johnson the ball in the final possession. “He was getting the ball, he delivered on that last shot. Some would say that Joe isn’t on his A-game, but he delivered the shot when we needed it.”
“It’s a new year,” Kidd continued. “Guys played extremely hard for 48 minutes. They made a run and we responded in the third quarter. The defense was there for 48 minutes, we made some shots and everybody played.”
“Hopefully this is something that we can build on. Give those guys a lot of credit, there is a lot of fight in those guys. We can only take it one game at a time. Now we have to turn the page and prepare for Cleveland, but this is an opportunity for us to build off of something.”
The Thunder led by as much as 16 points in the third quarter behind a 24-point performance by Kevin Durant, but in the quarter that the Nets usually play the worst they slowly started their comeback. That’s when Deron Williams, who finished with 29 points with four assists, came alive and scored 11 points in the quarter.
“We just wanted to get (Deron) comfortable,” Kidd said. “He got some great looks, he was aggressive tonight and he did it on the defensive end as well.”
They say it’s better to be lucky than good and D-Will did get some luck as he stole an inbound pass in the final seconds of the third and hit a hail mary shot attempt from half court. The Nets carried that momentum over to the fourth quarter where they dominated the Thunder. Brooklyn shot 57.9 percent in the fourth including seven from D-Will and a big three that put the Nets up with 1:48 to play.
“I think you saw emotion out there,” Shaun Livingston said. “With the struggles we’ve had all season we came in and this felt like a team win. We got down, we’re on the road, a lot of odds against us, guys stepped up and made their plays on both ends of the court.”
Andrei Kirilenko played in his second game since he missed two months with a back injury. He was impressive as he scored nine points with two rebounds and an assist in just under 15 minutes.