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Joe Johnson heats up in fourth quarter to lift Nets to first win

Nets' Joe Johnson takes a shot against Detroit

Nets' Joe Johnson takes a shot against Detroit Pistons' Kyle Singler with theatrical smoke still in the arena at the start of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Credit: AP / Duane Burleson

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - With sweat still pouring off his forehead and a euphoric feeling engulfing his 38-year-old frame, Kevin Garnett nearly ran out of superlatives as he attempted to explain what it's like to watch Joe Johnson unleash his offensive fury.

"Man, Joe Jesus," Garnett said after Johnson scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter -- matching the Pistons' offensive output in the period -- to lead the Nets to a 102-90 win at the Palace of Auburn Hills last night.

"You know what it is. It's great, man. Me and AA [Alan Anderson] were kind of joking that when we saw him bopping, we can kind of see it coming like a tornado.''

The Nets led by 14 points early in the third quarter and brought a six-point lead into the fourth, but that vanished. With an inspired effort crumbling, Johnson saved the Nets (1-1) from what would've been a second straight disappointing loss.

Johnson, who also had eight rebounds and six assists, shot 7-for-9 in the fourth quarter. "It doesn't matter -- once you're in a rhythm, you're in a rhythm," he said. "It doesn't matter who's guarding you."

"Joe got hot," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "What can you say? When a guy like that is feeling it, we did some stuff to get him in a good position and then he just took charge and took over the game."

Garnett had 18 points and 14 rebounds, the most he's had in each category in two seasons as a Net, but he was left marveling at Johnson,

"You know what's crazy, man?'' Garnett said. "After this win and seeing a performance like that, it feels like he had 100 or something.

"I mean group effort. But man, way to follow his lead and way for Joe to lead us tonight. It was great to watch, man. I've got the best seat in the house every night."

Garnett didn't take much of a seat against the Pistons, though. Logging 35 minutes, the second-most he's played as a Net, he confidently stepped into his pull-up jumper and bombed away with conviction.

No doubt, Garnett is locked in and determined to put last season, which was filled with career lows, in the rearview mirror.

"My mind-set changed June 1," Garnett said. "I got back to my regimen, I got back to what I know. I got back to what made me great over these years, I got back to who I am.

"I've been ready from Day 1 for camp. I didn't tell the world because obviously you never know what tomorrow is. But I'm ready this year.''

It was Johnson who was ready in that fourth quarter as he put the Nets on his back.

After Caron Butler hit three free throws with 8:49 to play to give Detroit an 84-83 lead, Johnson went to work, reeling off a personal 7-0 run to put the Nets back in control. He scored all nine points in a 9-2 spurt that gave the Nets a 92-86 lead.

Johnson's hot shooting sparked an offense that got cold in the third quarter, when the Nets were 9-for-23 and were outscored 28-22 as Detroit connected on 12 of 19 shots.

Deron Williams had 15 points and six assists for the Nets. Mirza Teletovic scored 12 points and Mason Plumlee added 10.

Greg Monroe had 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the Pistons from a two-game suspension for a drunken-driving arrest. Brandon Jennings also had 18 points.

New York Sports