On Thursday night in Oklahoma City the Brooklyn Nets got a much needed victory over the Thunder when Joe Johnson hit a tough jumper just as time expired. The basket gave the Nets an improbable 95-93 comeback victory at one of the most difficult places to play.
Brooklyn trailed by as many as 17 points twice during the game including late in the third quarter after Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb hit a three pointer. In recent games the Nets have not been able to overcome such a deficit. Thursday night was different.
The comeback was led by Deron Williams and Paul Pierce. Williams scored 29 points, hit six of nine three point attempts, had four assists and five steals on the game. Pierce scored 18 points. The duo fueled a late 14-0 run that took the game from the Thunder leading 89-79 to the Nets taking the lead 93-89. Pierce had five points during the run and Williams hit a three to give the Nets a 91-89 lead.
With Brooklyn leading 93-91 in the closing seconds, Kevin Durant found Serge Ibaka inside for the game-tying basket. With just 5.8 seconds left, The Nets would have one more chance to win the game.
In recent situations, Johnson has hit multiple game-tying or game-winning shots for the Nets in the last two seasons, including a game-winner earlier this season against the Phoenix Suns. Johnson has struggled for the Nets recently including Thursday night, finishing his fourth straight game with under 10 points. That didn't matter when coach Jason Kidd called the Nets final timeout. He knew who he wanted to go to.
Johnson inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett who quickly gave it back to him. The veteran then made several moves to try and create enough space between him and Serge Ibaka so he could get a decent look at the basket. Finally, just as the clock was winding down, Johnson let it fly and hit a difficult, high-arching jumper from the top of the key with Ibaka right in his grill.
Said Kidd after the game simply, "He delivered."
Game over. Nets win.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 24 points. Ibaka finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Perry Jones came off the bench to score 11 points and Reggie Jackson finished with nine points and five assists. For the Thunder this was their fourth game since Russell Westbrook has gone been due to surgery in his knee.
No one can tell what's to come for the rest of the Nets season. Maybe this is finally the turning point that have been looking for as they finally showed some heart and resiliency overcoming a large deficit in a frenzied environment against one of the league's best teams. Or maybe this is just one of the lone bright spots in what will continue to be a tumultuous season for Jason Kidd's squad.
One thing is for certain as they prepare to face the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Saturday night following an excruciating road trip; thanks to Joe Johnson's winner, they are heading home on a positive note.
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