The Brooklyn Nets playing without their star center Brook Lopez seems like a scary thought. As the Nets have been one of the most underperforming teams of the 2013-14 NBA season, Lopez has been one of their lone bright spots. Even with the return of Deron Williams this past week, Lopez has continued to remain the glue.
Against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that has been falling rapidly after a solid start to the year, on Monday night, the Nets were without Lopez for the second consecutive game as the big man tries to recover from a sprained ankle. While you might expect the Nets to have struggled without their go-to guy in the frontcourt, Joe Johnson eased any and all worries.
While the Nets held only a 10-point lead over Philadelphia at halftime, Johnson came out and delivered a monster third period. Johnson hit eight threes in the quarter alone, tying the NBA record for threes made in a quarter. He finished that third quarter with 29 points by himself, leading the Nets out to a 27-point lead that they extended in the final period to an eventual 130-94 victory.
Going into the fourth, Johnson had 37 points and 10 made three-point attempts, just two shy of the NBA record for threes made in a game. However, the Nets chose to sit Johnson in the fourth quarter and let him rest without going for the record. Though his performance was off the charts, the fact that Brooklyn sat Johnson might be the most impressive part of the night.
For a struggling team like the Nets, there had to be some notion to let Johnson play and go for the record floating in their heads, just to have something to strive for and cling to. However, the fact that they didn’t shows that they are serious about turning things around and still believe in themselves, to a degree at least. Hats off to Johnson for what was an incredible night and third quarter, but it’s good to see the Nets showing some pride in the right ways.