In a season where little has gone right, the New Jersey Nets’ finally have a last-second hero.
Jordan Farmar hit a three-pointer from the right wing with 0.2 seconds left off a long cross-court bounce pass from Deron Williams, and the Nets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 101-100 on Wednesday night after squandering an 18-point lead.
”It was perfect,” Farmar said. ”They were always cheating over toward Deron and taking his space away. He had to bounce it and he bounced it in a perfect spot. I was a little deep, but I wanted to make sure I saw the rim and stayed with my follow through. No doubt at all. I would have been hurt if it went out.”
Williams picked up his 10th assist with the pass as the Nets won a chippy contest marred by five technical fouls.
”It’s a huge shot,” said Williams, who led New Jersey with 21 points. ”They were trying to take the ball out of my hands in the second half with doubles and denying me back the ball. He just hit a huge shot from deep. He had ice in his veins tonight.”
Chris Paul put the Clippers ahead for the first time since the opening minutes when he made two free throws with 8.9 seconds to play after being fouled 20 feet from the basket.
Williams nearly lost the ball on the Nets’ first inbounds play and the ball went out of bounds near halfcourt. He took the ensuing inbounds pass from Farmar and returned the ball to him for the winning shot.
”The tough thing is the play before I almost had the steal,” said Paul, who finished with 22 points and 10 assists.
Coach Avery Johnson said the Nets wanted to find someone on the backside after the pass was made to Williams on the left side of the court.
”We knew they were going to double-team Deron,” Johnson said. ”What a great on-time, on-target pass. Good spacing by the rest of the guys on the floor, and Jordan made the biggest shot this year for us in front of a great crowd.”
Farmar finished with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field. MarShon Brooks added 19, Sheldon Williams had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Kris Humphries, who had a game-long skirmish with Blake Griffin, added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Griffin, who had his left ankle rolled by Humphries late in the game, had 28 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Clippers, who’ve now lost six of nine. Paul finished with 22 points and 10 assists, while Newark native Randy Foye added a season-high 24 points.
”We have to grind it back,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. ”I’m happy with the way the guys fought. It’s frustrating to put ourselves in that position and not be able to execute when we needed to. It’s frustrating.”
Foye tied the game at 98-98 with a three-point play with 38.2 seconds to go. What made the shot so exciting was Foye was fouled on the play by Brooks and his attempt from in front of the Nets bench banked into the basket.
The Nets coaching staff jumped up and screamed at the rookie guard, but they were just as lucky Foye’s toe was touching the three-point arc or they would have been trailing.
Sheldon Williams then fouled Paul as he dribbled around the top of the key, but Farmar made his biggest shot of the season.
The Clippers, who had trailed since the closing minutes of the first quarter, used a 17-8 run at the start of the fourth quarter and tied the game at 88-88 on Paul’s layup with 4:35 to play.
The Nets retook the lead 90-88 on two free throws by Humphries on their next possession. The Clippers had chances to tie, but Griffin, a 55 percent free throw shooter, twice missed one of two free throws.
Griffin, who was called for a double technical foul with Humphries earlier in the contest, was lucky he wasn’t seriously hurt when Humphries dived for a loose ball near the Los Angeles bench and landed on the back of the forward’s ankle with all his weight.
Humphries and Griffin also exchanged big blocks on dunk attempts in the second half, while Griffin had four monster dunks in the contest.
Trailing 78-62 after Humphries made two free throws, the Clippers closed the half with a 9-2 run that backup guard Eric Bledsoe started with a three-pointer and ended with a layup to cut the lead to nine points.
The Clippers kept on coming in the fourth quarter as Mo Williams hit a three and Kenyon Martin made a free throw to narrow the Nets’ lead to 80-75. A three by Paul eventually cut the deficit to four and Los Angeles would eventually tie the game with less than five minutes to play.
NOTES: WR Victor Cruz and OT Kareem McKenzie of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants were at the game. … The Nets wore their throwback jersey from their time in the ABA. … This was the Nets’ first home game since the NBA allowed teams to show the feed the referees were seeing when they reviewed plays. … New Jersey is now 4-13 at the Prudential Center this season.