When with time running out Monday, Joe Johnson hit a three from the left wing, he did something he hadn't done since March 2014, when his teammates included Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. He scored 20 points in two consecutive games.
It's obviously a small sample and against one team --whose strategy included doubling Brook Loperz. Still, when you've been down so long, it looks like up to us.
Johnson, who has been in a season-long shooting slump, has made 18 of his last 37 shots and four of 11 from three. He's also averaged 3.5 rebounds and three assists. Sounds like the old Joe. In the last three games of December, Johnson averaged 6.7 points and shot 29.2 percent, his worst stretch as a Net.
"I don’t ever get down on myself," Johnson said. "I’m an even-keel kind of guy. … But it’s great to see a few of them go down."
With Jarrett Jack out, the Nets will rely more on Johnson, as a facilitator as well as a scorer.
"We have very few guys that are playmakers," Lionel Hollins said. "Jarrett was one of them and Joe is one of them, so obviously with Jarrett out, Joe is going to get more opportunities to be the playmaker."
Johnson, in fact, had four assists, one short of the five racked up by Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan combined.
"I think we've gotten past the fact that Jarrett is not going be back with us this year, so guys have to step up," Johnson, 34, said. "But it was the first quarter that killed us. I'll take ownership for the majority of it as far as turnovers (he had both of his miscues in the first) and getting guys the ball in the right spots to make plays and then guarding my man defensively."
Yes, he does. Here's what Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote Tuesday...
Everyone knows Iso-Joe's shooting has been a disaster, but the fall-off has been almost as bad on defense. Johnson has trouble staying in front of average wings, let alone zippier first-option types. Evan Turner treated him like a traffic cone over the weekend. The Nets have tried Johnson at power forward now and then, and shifting there full-time -- likely as backup, in Brooklyn or someplace else -- might be the best way to salvage Johnson's twilight.