It's a fundamental tenet of basketball — if you want to reliably create quality offense, you're going to want to play somebody willing to and capable of setting good screens. Even the best shot-makers won't consistently knock down contested looks, and having a strong screener (or, ideally, more than one) who can pin an opposing defenders to give your team's shooters a bit of breathing room to gather and a clean sightline when rising to fire can make a ton of difference in a jumper's accuracy and an offense's rhythm.
Of course, if you can trick the other team into setting your screens for you — like Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson did in the first quarter of Wednesday night's game against the Miami Heat by turning mismatched big man Chris Bosh's ankles to tapioca with an evil behind-the-back crossover, sending him careening into frontcourt partner Udonis Haslem — then so much the better:
Kudos to Johnson for figuring out a way to legally play six-on-five one night after the Dallas Mavericks couldn't, and kudos to Bosh for not winding up nearly on all fours after a Johnson shake, like a certain Truth who shall remain nameless did earlier this season.
We hope Johnson and Nets fans alike savored the flavor of the cross-up, because things stopped being so fun and cool for Brooklyn pretty much right after halftime, thanks to a pair of monster third-quarter Heat runs that pushed Miami's lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter; from there, it was all over but the shouting, as Miami cruised to a 105-85 win to sweep its season series with Brooklyn, three games to zip.
Outside of the big move, Johnson struggled, going 4 for 15 from the floor for 16 points and leavening his six assists with four turnovers. So did Nets forward Reggie Evans, who opened Wednesday by talking a big game and closed it by producing a small one, going scoreless and grabbing zero offensive rebounds in 20 minutes before heading out the locker room without talking to the media. You know who didn't struggle? LeBron James, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the blowout; if you're keeping score, Johnson and Andray Blatche combined for 27-9-6, so maybe Evans was right that James is no different from Johnson and Blatche. Perhaps we just misunderstood him. So misunderstood, that Reggie Evans.
But enough doom and gloom, Nets fans. Let's take one last slow-motion look at the shakedown, courtesy of the NBA's Phantom camera:
Even on an ugly night for the black-and-white, that was still darn pretty.
Videos via our friends at the National Basketball Association.