By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY — Joe Johnson is no longer the scoring machine he used to be in his prime. The Brooklyn Nets guard is no longer asked to be.
However, when the game is on the line, Johnson is the one the Nets call on to pull them through, which is what he did when he hit a game-winning shot in the Nets 95-93 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“He was getting the ball,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “We asked if he wanted the last shot. He delivered. We understand the personnel and Joe delivered.”
The Thunder have now lost two consecutive games at home after having leads of at least 16 points. For a unit that takes pride in protecting its home court ferociously, its unacceptable.
“We have to do a better job definitely of protecting leads,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s the second game in a row that we didn’t do a good job of closing quarters and closing games out. That’s something we have to do a better job of, especially on our home floor.”
The Nets used a 14-0 run to whittle the Thunder’s lead down to 89-88. Guard Deron Williams gave Brooklyn a two-point advantage when he drilled a 3-pointer with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka turned the ball over, and Williams followed with another midrange jumper. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant answered with a layup to close gap to 93-91.
The Thunder (25-7) got the ball with 13 seconds left. Durant tried to dribble around forward Kevin Garnett, then jumped in the air to make a pass. The ball was deflected but ended up in the hands of Ibaka, who drove in for a layup to tie the game with five seconds remaining.
The Nets (11-21) called a timeout and Johnson told Nets coach Jason Kidd he wanted the ball. Kidd agreed and called his number. Johnson got the ball near the top of the key and drilled a jumper in Ibaka’s face at the buzzer to win the game.
“I guess it was my turn,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to make sure we had the last shot. I didn’t even try and look at the goal until I came out of my move. That’s when I looked. In my head, the clock was going down. You kind of have a feel for it. Basically instincts.”
Williams, who started at shooting guard, scored a game-high 29 points to go along with four assists and five steals. Forward Paul Pierce chipped in with 18 points on 6-for-18 shooting for the Nets. Johnson had nine points and four rebounds.
“The thing is we stayed together,” Pierce said. “Even through tough times, this team was sticking together, trying to find a way and use the new year as a resolution to turn things around.”
Durant paced the Thunder with 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting. He also racked up five turnovers to go with four rebounds and four assists. Ibaka added 10 points and 11 boards.
The Thunder were outrebounded 34-33, and they committed 21 team turnovers, including 14 in the second half.
“We’ve just got to do better,” Durant said. “It’s tough to swallow, losing at the buzzer like that after being up by so much.”
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