In Joe Johnson's eyes, there was little doubt the jump shot he unleashed just before the clock hit triple zeroes in double overtime was going to be true.
"When I shot it, when it left my hand, I knew it was going in," Johnson said. "That's why I kind of faded back and my trot was kind of swagged out. But it was just a feeling I had, man. When it left my hand, I knew it was good and I'm just glad we could get out of here with a win."
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Johnson swished the biggest shot of his short Nets tenure over the outstretched arms of Tayshaun Prince, then scampered around the Barclays Center court with the youthful exuberance of a grade-schooler. His stepback jumper from the top of the key just inside the three-point line gave the Nets a scintillating 107-105 win over the Pistons Friday night before an exhausted crowd of 15,797.
The Pistons' Kyle Singler had tied it at 105 on a layup with 5.8 seconds left. Detroit's Brandon Knight had missed a jumper from the left corner, but the rebound went over the head of the Nets' Gerald Wallace and the Nets' Kris Humphries inadvertently tapped the rebound right to Singler for the easy layup.
Johnson's heroics saved the Nets (13-9) from a potentially embarrassing defeat and snapped their four-game slide at home. They watched a 17-point second-quarter lead evaporate and needed every one of Johnson's 14 combined points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes to win their second straight game heading into Saturday night's matchup with the Bulls in Chicago.
"I think everybody was excited," Deron Williams said. "We fought all game and he carried us to the fourth quarter and overtimes, and I don't think anybody wanted to play a third overtime. I guess he knew we needed to get to Chicago."
"It's really fun to come out on the winning end and winning side of those kinds of games," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "But what I saw was a group of guys that were fighters and guys that didn't make any excuses. We had a lot of adversity out there tonight . . . But I just saw a bunch of tough-minded and physically tough guys out there, and Joe closed the door for us."
The Nets trailed the Pistons (7-18) by three after Jason Maxiell hit one of two free throws with 2:04 remaining in the second overtime. But they outscored Detroit 7-2 the rest of the way behind clutch buckets from Johnson and Wallace, who threw his body all over the place.
Johnson led the Nets with 28 points. Wallace had a season-high 25 points along with 10 rebounds. Williams added 17 points and six assists. Knight paced Detroit with 22 points.
Brook Lopez, making his return after missing the previous seven games with a sprained ligament in his right foot, had nine points, four rebounds and three blocks in 23:50.
"It was great," Lopez said. "I felt very good there with no problem. I was just happy to be out there playing with my guys."
Said Joe Johnson: "We had a nice lead in that first half and they made a little run to close out the first half and it kind of trickled over to the second half as well. But man, we've got to learn how to put teams away when we have them down. Tonight, we definitely had them down in that first half and they were ready to give up and we let them right back in. So you can't give a team confidence."
Notes & quotes: Jerry Stackhouse sat out with a right knee injury suffered Tuesday against the Knicks and is expected to miss Saturday night's game. Stackhouse said he got banged up when Jason Kidd stuck out his foot on his game-winning three-pointer and Stackhouse ran into it. "I got kicked in the knee," he said. "All my momentum was going by him, but I'll be all right. I don't think it's that serious right now. It's just been sore the last few days and I've lost a little strength in it.''