Gerald Wallace knew he was dipping into dangerous territory, perhaps digging into a bag of hyperbole as he searched for the right words to describe Joe Johnson's late-game heroics.
So what, Wallace figured. Shoot, he was going to go all out in praising Johnson.
"Joe's like, I mean I hate to do the comparison to Michael Jordan, but . . . ," Wallace said as he peered over at Johnson seated at his locker, drawing some hearty laughs. "Just like everybody knew Michael was getting the ball in Chicago the last play and taking the shot, everybody in the arena knew Joe was getting the ball."
It didn't quite conjure up teary memories of Jordan flying over Craig Ehlo, but Johnson's latest buzzer-beaters were something to behold Tuesday night. The Nets' go-to guy in the clutch hit a pair of amazing shots -- a 27-foot three-pointer to force overtime and a tough 15-foot pullup jumper as the clock struck triple zeros in overtime -- and lifted the Nets to a wild 113-111 win over the Bucks in front of a Barclays Center crowd of 17,734 left gasping for air.
Johnson's deciding bucket marked the third time he's hit a game-winner for the Nets (32-22), who won their league-leading 10th straight overtime contest and snapped a 13-game losing streak to Milwaukee (26-26).
Johnson is now 4-for-4 from the field in the final 10 seconds of the Nets' overtime victories against the Pistons, Wizards and Bucks, an indicator of an ice-water touch late in games.
"When those situations occur, and coach draws up a play, he basically puts it in my hands and tells me to come on," said Johnson, who finished with a team-high 24 points and shot 10-for-18. "So I just tried to do a great job in trying to get space and make the best play possible. My teammates have the utmost confidence in me in the huddle, and I just try to come through in big moments like that."
His teammates are getting rather accustomed to it and boy are they enjoying the view.
"Yeah, it's almost like you feel it's going to go in," said Deron Williams, who posted 19 points and nine assists in his first game back after sitting out the previous two while recovering from his platelet-rich plasma injections on both ankles. "He's been so successful for us in the last seconds of games, closing out games and hitting big shots for us. It makes you confident as a team. As soon as you get the ball in the right place, he has an opportunity to get a good shot off, you feel like it's going in."
Johnson's masterful performance rescued the Nets from what could have been a brutal loss, given they watched a 10-point halftime lead evaporate behind yet another third-quarter struggle. His lengthy three-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining off Williams' assist nearly blew the roof off the Nets' billion-dollar home, but Brandon Jennings almost sent the fans home steaming.
Jennings, who cut the Nets to pieces and paced the Bucks with a game-high 34 points, hurled the ball 70 feet downcourt just after Johnson's basket and the ball caromed off the right side of the rim to send it into overtime.