Thursday, January 16, 2014

Joe Johnson Explains His Clutchness

Photo via Mark D. Smith, USA Today Sports
Joe Johnson is insanely clutch. There’s no way to deny that. Since coming to Brooklyn in a trade during the 2012 offseason, Johnson has come up huge in many clutch situations for the Nets. Since the beginning of last season, Johnson, when the score is within three points in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime, is a perfect 6-6. With 30 seconds or less and the score within three, Johnson is 12-16. Those numbers include four buzzer-beating game-winners.

Why is Johnson, dubbed “Joe Jesus” by teammate Kevin Garnett, so good in the clutch? He tries to explain it in an interview with the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy:
“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,” the 6-7 guard told Bondy. “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.”
Johnson had been known as one of the premier clutch players in the NBA for a while now. Mike Woodson, Johnson’s coach in Atlanta and now the coach of the New York Knicks, said this about Johnson’s clutchness last month, after declining to call a timeout for Carmelo Anthony:
“In Atlanta, I let a couple of games where I didn’t call a timeout because they weren’t set. We threw it in and Joe Johnson was able to dribble down and hit a winning shot.”
Johnson has hit two game-winners so far this season: a running floater in Phoenix on November 15, and a jump shot over Serge Ibaka in Oklahoma City on January 2.

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