Joe Johnson explains how "clutch" works

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It really sounds so simple ... what Joe Johnson told Stefan Bondy about why he's been so successful at hitting the big shot as time winds down. He's bigger than the guys guarding him and at the end of games, double teams get to be less of a problem.

"Maybe because I’m a pretty good one-on-one player, or maybe because I’m bigger than 95% of the guys who guard me," Johnson, who is 6-7, says in a recent sit-down with the Daily News. "All that probably plays a factor into it. I didn’t even realize in late-game situations until about the fourth year in the league that guys are not helping with five seconds on the clock. They don’t double you.

"That’s probably been the biggest thing in those situations. When I get the ball, I’m looking strictly to score. I’m never looking to pass, honestly, unless a defender is coming to where there’s two defenders on me, then I’ll pass. But I’m looking to get a bucket. . . . Four or five seconds is an eternity in basketball."

Of course, it's more than that. If it was so easy, Johnson wouldn't be leading the league in clutchiness. As Bondy notes, when the score is within three points in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime, Johnson has hit all six of his shots. With 30 seconds or less under those circumstances, Johnson has made 12 of his 16 attempts, including four game-winners at the buzzer for the Nets. Compare that to Carmelo Anthony, who despite a reputation as a big-shot player, is 0-for-10 in the last two seasons with 10 seconds left and the score within three. He’s 1-for-17 with 30 seconds or less remaining. Not so good.

As Johnson tells Bondy, he loves the moment.  "At times when you’re focused and your antenna goes up real high, you just think about whatever it takes to get this ball in the hole. I love and cherish those moments. Those are moments we’ve all lived for. I was counting the shot clock down when I was a kid, and it’s here, it’s real."

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