It finally happened.
Sometime after hitting his third three-pointer in just more than two minutes last night, a hint of a smile finally flickered across Joe Johnson's face. Yes, Johnson looked as though he was having a good time in a Nets uniform for the first time this season, looked as though this was a place he was going to fit in just fine.
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Johnson, who struggled in his first five games playing alongside point guard Deron Williams, scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Nets to a 114-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Barclays Center.
"I just got some good looks and we got into transition," Johnson said. "I shot a couple of threes in transition, which got me into a little rhythm. Guys were finding me and I was just trying to take my time with my shot."
The win was the third straight for the Nets, who were hoping to have one of the most dominating backcourts in the league when they brought in Johnson this offseason to pair with Williams. The two totaled 51 points Tuesday night with Williams scoring 26 points and handing out 10 assists.
"I definitely felt we were playing better together today," Williams said. "Hopefully we can continue to make improvements and get each other going. We had been talking a lot over the last few days, trying to get each other going."
Joe Johnson was 9-for-16 from the floor, and his points came in key stretches. He scored seven points over a three-minute stretch in the second quarter, during which the Nets built a 12-point lead. And then he scored 12 straight points in the fourth quarter as the Nets kept a stranglehold on the Cavaliers.
"I think it's something we can regularly do," Johnson said. "When this thing comes together, it's going to be a fun thing to watch."
It was a good win for the Nets (4-2). They finally were able to both build and hold a significant lead on a struggling opponent. Last week, they lost to Minnesota after blowing a 22-point lead. And on Sunday, they saw a 21-point advantage dwindle to five in the final two minutes of an 82-74 victory over Orlando.
"The worst thing we can do here is give this team a second chance," coach Avery Johnson said before the game when asked if he was worried about the way his team had been letting opponents back into games.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Cavaliers. It was also Cleveland's final game of a six-game road trip, which goes a long way toward explaining why the Cavs were unable to make much of a run after falling behind by 20 in the second quarter.