Few Clouds 41° Good Evening
Few Clouds 41° Good Evening

Joe Johnson puts last year behind him with brilliant Game 7

Joe Johnson, left, shoots over the Toronto Raptors'

Joe Johnson, left, shoots over the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) during the second half of Game 7 of the opening-round playoff series in Toronto, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Frank Gunn

TORONTO - Other than putting them in the second round of the playoffs, the best thing for the Nets about Sunday's Game 7 victory over the Raptors is that they no longer will have to answer questions about last year's Game 7 loss to the Bulls.

So, one last time: They lost, 99-93, at home to a Chicago team that limped into the game, a famously embarrassing development that led to major offseason changes.

Also, one last time: Joe Johnson was awful in that game, shooting 2-for-14 -- including 1-for-9 on three-pointers -- and scoring six points while battling a foot injury.

All of that officially became ancient history for Johnson when he scored 26 points -- 13 in the fourth quarter -- and played a team-high (by far) 45 minutes in the Nets' 104-103 victory at Air Canada Centre.

The generally imperturbable Johnson politely fielded a question afterward about Game 7 of 2013, while making it clear all he was interested in talking about was Game 7 of 2014.

"You know what, it had nothing to do with last year's Game 7," he said when asked if he felt redeemed. "Obviously, this is a totally different team."

When coach Jason Kidd was asked about playing Johnson for 45 of the game's 48 minutes, he joked, "I shortchanged him three minutes, so he owes me three minutes."

Kidd said Johnson asked not to come out, so he didn't, and the Nets kept looking for him in the crucial waning minutes.

"He's always gone under the radar, but he's as good as they come coming down the stretch," Kidd said.

Said Johnson: "I was just trying to be aggressive. Early on, I took my time, picked my spots."

Johnson's personality and playing style lack the flash of many stars. He even has a generic name. But the Nets like him just fine.

"Joe's kept us alive this whole series," Kevin Garnett said. "When we didn't have a hope, he gave us light. We've got to give him something; we can't just leave him out there like that. But, Joe Jesus, I told you, cooler than the other side of the pillow, man.

"He's one of the best to do it, man. I don't think he gets his props, but he goes out and he does his job and he does it at a high level."

New York Sports