Johnson's basket gives Nets a win in two OTs

by Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON - The Washington Wizards hit late shots to force two overtime periods, but the final big shot belonged to Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson sank the game-winning jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining in double-overtime, and Brook Lopez had 27 points and 13 rebounds as the Nets survived for a wild 115-113 win over Washington on Friday.
After the Wizards drained final-second shots to force both overtime sessions, Johnson returned the favor with a deep bomb from the right wing after Bradley Beal's free throws tied the game with 9.1 seconds remaining.
Deron Williams finished with 24 points and 10 assists for the Nets (18-15) and Johnson added 18 points. Amnestied by the Wizards this summer, Andray Blatche had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, winners of two straight road games.
Brooklyn trailed after each of the first three quarters, but held leads with less than four seconds remaining in both the fourth quarter and the first overtime, overtime only to see the Wizards (4-27), owners of the NBA's worst record, twice come up clutch.
"Joe Johnson saved the day," Williams exclaimed in the victorious locker room.
That saving came after Nene's running hook with 0.8 left in regulation forced the first overtime and Beal's 3-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into a second extra session. Beal's heroics came after the Nets pulled ahead 104-101 with 3.4 seconds remaining following an 11-0 run.
Constant double teams had forced the ball out of Johnson's hands over the final minutes. Guarded by Beal, but sensing an extra defender was headed his way, Johnson "just took one hard dribble and pulled up for a jumper." That score was Johnson's only basket of either overtime session.
"It's a great feeling," Johnson said. "Anytime the players and coaches put you in a situation like that, it means they have the ultimate faith in you to come through."
Brooklyn improved to 3-0 in overtime games while Washington fell to 0-5.
Beal scored a career-high 24 points, Jordan Crawford had 23 and Nene 20 for the Wizards, losers of four straight and 12 of 13.
In the fourth quarter and both overtimes, the Wizards shot a combined 9 of 16 from the free throw line and finished 18 of 31 overall.
Washington's best opportunity for victory came during the first overtime. The Wizards scored the first six points and led 101-93 with 1:27 remaining only to see the Nets score 11 straight over the final 74 seconds.
During a season of relentless losing, this latest setback stung the most.
"Yeah. Definitely. By far," dejected Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "I can't fault anybody, the effort. Did everybody play the best they could? No. What were up eight, a minute 27 [left]? You've got to close that game out. We've got to close that game out."
The Nets led 111-106 with 3:21 left in the second overtime. Washington eventually tied the game for the 10th and final time with four free throws, the last two by Beal setting up Johnson's game-winner.
Both teams clanked shots throughout the final stretch of regulation, and Crawford's acrobatic layup with 56 seconds left tied the game at 91. After both teams had empty possessions, Lopez slammed home a Gerald Wallace miss with 3.2 seconds remaining. Nene responded with a basket following a timeout, but the Brazilian big man fouled out in the first overtime.
In the second overtime, two free throws each from Lopez and Williams put Brooklyn ahead 104-101, but once again, the Wizards proved clutch. The inbounds pass from the side found Beal near the top of the arc and the 19-year-old rookie buried the tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Blatche's turbulent run in Washington ended on a largely toxic note, as he became the verbal target for frustrated fans during a fourth straight losing season. The organization shut him down last March for the final 22 games over conditioning issues.
Signed by Brooklyn over the summer and now a key reserve, Blatche entered the game around the seven-minute mark of the first quarter. Every time he touched the ball, the fans loudly sent a chorus of boos his way, but Johnson's shot silenced them for good.
Describing his emotions from the sideline on the game-winner, Blatche said, "I was nervous. I was nervous. That's one - I definitely didn't want to come here and lose."
Down 79-78 after three quarters, the Nets took their first lead at 86-84 on a MarShon Brooks layup.
The NBA's lowest scoring team, Washington matched its season high with 30 first-quarter points and led 55-52 at halftime.
Notes: The Nets improved their road record to 7-8. The Wizards have lost 13 of 15 at home. ... Beal ended 2012 by missing his last 17 3-point attempts. Since the calendar flipped, the Wizards first-round pick is 8-of-15 from beyond the arc in three games. ... Brooklyn played without forward Kris Humphries (sprained left ankle) and guard C.J. Watson (bruised right knee). ... Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (strained left calf) missed his 16th straight game, but could return Sunday at Miami. ... Brooklyn hosts Sacramento on Saturday.