Did Joe Johnson’s buzzer-beater save season — and Kidd’s job?
Did Joe Johnson just save the Nets’ season and Coach Jason Kidd’s job?
Johnson nailed the game-winning shot at the buzzer at Oklahoma City on Thursday night for a 95-93 win. The shot capped an improbable rally from a 16-point second-half deficit for the Nets (11-21), led by a season-high 29 points from point guard Deron Williams.
”We as a team did a great job in keeping the game close and coming up with the big plays, especially in the fourth quarter and down the stretch,” said Johnson, whose six buzzer-beaters since 2007-08 are twice as many as anyone else has. ”Coach drew the play up in the huddle, and the rest is history.”
Brooklyn trailed 77-61 late in the third quarter, but Williams scored 18 in the second half and helped set the stage for Johnson’s last-second shot over Serge Ibaka. Paul Pierce added 18 points for the Nets.
”We didn’t give in to the team making the run, even though in the third quarter they really pushed the lead,” Pierce said. ”The crowd really got behind them, but the thing is we really stayed together.
”Hopefully, we can build on it.”
It’s been a dismal season for the team that has the highest payroll ($101M) in the NBA and was put together to challenge for the East crown. Instead, the Nets are just a half-game out of last place in an Atlantic Division replete with underachievers. (The New York Knicks, who have the second-highest payroll ($87M) and happen to be the dead-last team in that group, got the biggest win of their season Thursday night, too, beating that other Midwest power, the Spurs, on the road, 105-101.)
It had gotten so bad for the Nets that when they faced off against the Spurs earlier this week, they actually walked off the court before the game was over.
And that was after Kidd and Kevin Garnett reportedly ripped the team for not caring enough.
It’s been a rough rookie season for Kidd, who’s been blamed for his lack of coaching experience and lampooned for this bush-league tactic:
So will Johnson’s winner spark the Nets to turn it around? Probably not, unless Garnett (4 points) and Pierce (6 of 18) can turn back the clock and the Nets can get something out of Jason Terry (5.3 ppg).