OKLAHOMA CITY -- Joe Johnson has made so many clutch shots over his career it’s difficult to name them all.
But the shot he hit on Jan. 2, the one that gave the Brooklyn Nets an improbable win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City, is easy to dub:
It’s, ‘The Shot That Saved the Brooklyn Nets Season.’
The Nets arrived here having lost two straight, and 6-of-7, to fall to a season-low, 10-21. They trailed the Thunder, who were 14-2 at home, by 10 points with less than seven minutes remaining.
The season was on the brink.
But Deron Williams (29 points) led a 14-0 surge to get the Nets back in it. Later, with the score tied, 93-93, with five seconds left, they turned to Johnson, who has this remarkable ability to make the clutch shot.
The 6’7 guard lofted a shot in the lane over Oklahoma City’s 6’10 Serbe Ibaka. The ball dropped through the net as time expired, giving the Nets an astounding 95-93 win.
"I thought 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," Johnson said. "Coach drew the play up in the huddle, and the rest is history."
Not so fast.
The Nets, playing their first game of 2014, became a different team. They realized that using their length to force turnovers on defense and their intelligence to share the ball on offense, was the new order.
“For whatever reason, that was the game we just decided to fight for one another,’’ said guard Shaun Livingston. “And when you win a game like that, it builds confidence.’’
The Nets came together big time. The win was the first of five straight and 10-of-11.
"That's a good way to start the new year," Williams said.
It’s a better way to start a new season.