Joe Johnson Catches Fire for One of Best Individual Quarters in NBA History

By Brian Neal
Joe Johnson Brooklyn Nets
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Johnson has been a relatively inconsistent player in recent years, especially for someone currently riding a $123 million contract.

However, Johnson certainly found his groove in the third quarter of last night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and it ended up being one of the greatest outbursts in the history of the NBA.

Up by 16 already with about 9:30 remaining in the third, the Brooklyn Nets‘ two-guard went off for 29 points to close out the period. He shot 10-of-13 from the field and nailed eight three-pointers, tying the record for three’s made in one quarter. I’m not joking, you need to watch this — it’s ridiculously enjoyable to watch for any basketball fan.

He was simply unconscious. Rarely do we get to see someone that far in the zone. Every shot he put up, regardless of who was on him or how tightly contested, was seemingly perfect. In fact, the majority of them didn’t even hit the rim; they just splashed in one after the other. It was simply a thing of beauty — nay, grace — nay again: Elegance. Well, perhaps all three. As you can tell, it got me a little excited just watching.

And to think, if he could’ve sank just two more buckets, the record for the most points in one quarter could’ve been his.

Only seven players in league history have sank more than Johnson’s 29 in one quarter, and it’s a very impressive list:

George Gervin, 33, April 9, 1978
Carmelo Anthony, 33, Dec. 10, 2008
David Thompson, 32, April 9, 1978
Wilt Chamberlain, 31, March 2, 1962
Kobe Bryant, 30 (twice), Dec. 20, 2005 and Nov. 30, 2006
Michael Jordan, 30, Nov. 26, 1988
Vernon Maxwell, 30, Jan. 26, 1991

Kobe is the only player to ever score at least 30 points in a quarter twice, but neither performance came in his 81-point game. Chamberlain, on the other hand, did score his 31 points in his 100-point game all those years ago. The most interesting factoid about all those works of art, if you happened to pay attention to the dates (which I don’t blame ya if you didn’t), is that two of the top three occurred in the same game. Thompson, who was battling Gervin for the scoring title that year, put up 32 in the first, and his counterpart dropped 33 in the second. Gervin went on to win the scoring title; his first of a career total of four.

Back to Johnson. The six-time All Star now ranks right up there with some of the greatest scorers in NBA history, at least in this regard. His career average of 17.6 points per game won’t paint a picture of an elite scorer, but he had his moment last night.

Too bad for the Nets, that performance only gave them their ninth win of the season as they try to crawl their way back up to relevance. Of course, in the Eastern Conference, that may not take too much longer — especially if Johnson goes off again.

Brian Neal is an NFL and NBA contributor for Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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