Johnson's buzzer-beater lifts Nets to win
They needed 10 extra minutes to do it, but the Brooklyn Nets were winners in Brook Lopez’s return to the court, topping the Detroit Pistons 107-105 in double overtime at Barclays Center to snap a four-game home losing streak.
Joe Johnson had a game-high 28 points for Brooklyn (13-9), but none were bigger than the last two; Johnson took an inbounds pass with just a few seconds left in the extra frame, and then drilled a 23-foot jumper over Tayshaun Prince as time expired to give the Nets their second overtime win of the season.
“Joe has been in a pretty good rhythm; I think he came on for us in the second half of the Toronto game, and it was no secret that we were going to give him the ball and ride his back (in the fourth quarter tonight),” coach Avery Johnson said after the game. “That’s what we look for from Joe, and he came through for us. He’s really confident, even if the shots don’t go down. … He’s a big shot maker, and that’s what we need.”
Gerald Wallace also came up huge for Brooklyn, notching a double-double with a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. “Crash” also lived up to his nickname, taking several hard spills throughout the game while trying to make hustle plays, and his coach certainly noticed the effort.
“His left-handed tip was impressive, but I don’t think we’d be in overtime without Gerald Wallace tonight,” Johnson said.
Detroit (7-18) had five players in double figures, led by point guard Brandon Knight’s team-high 22. Rodney Stuckey scored 19 off the bench, and Tayshaun Prince added 12 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists for a scrappy Pistons squad that nearly stole what would have been just their third road win of the season.
“We tried to tell (the team) all day how good Detroit was; they’ve had a lot of double-digit leads that led to losses,” Johnson said. “But I just saw a bunch of tough-minded and physically tough guys out there, and Joe closed the door for us.”
The win was certainly a grinder for the Nets, who used a 36-point second quarter – their second-highest single-period outburst of the season – to take a 12-point halftime lead. But the Pistons stormed back in the third, outscoring Brooklyn 30-14 to turn their deficit of a dozen into a four-point surplus, and the two teams were deadlocked at the end of 48 and 53 minutes of play.
Both squads began to show a little fatigue, and the Nets began to wear thin on the front line after both Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans fouled out during bonus basketball – but in the end, it was the Joe show, as Johnson atoned for missing a key free throw with 10.5 seconds left by drilling the game winner to send the fans – and his coach – home happy.
“Tonight, I saw a group of guys that were fighters, and guys that didn’t make any excuses; we had a lot of adversity out there tonight, but I saw guys that were just mentally and physically tough,” Avery Johnson said of his squad. “And, we haven’t won in our building in the last couple games, so it was good that our fans could go home happy tonight.”
As for Lopez, the center was set to play about “half the game” according to Avery, and he clocked in just under 24 minutes. The Stanford product posted a line of nine points, four rebounds, and three blocks in his return, and coach Johnson was pleased with what he saw overall.
“Brook looked fine to me; obviously he missed a few shots, but again, he had three blocked shots, and he could have had five,” Johnson said. “That’s what we’ve been missing, and you saw Blatche be productive coming off the bench in a reserve role; that’s kind of a snapshot of our team.”
The Nets will have just a short time to relish the win, as they will now fly to Chicago for a Saturday night date with the Bulls at the United Center. That also means they won’t have much time to rest, but Johnson thinks the ends of Friday might justify the means.
“We’re getting on the plane now, and even though it’s a back-to-back game, and this was a double overtime game, sometimes games like this can energize a team,” Johnson said. “We’re here because of the efforts of guys like Joe down the stretch, but it was a total team effort.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES