As frequently as the Brooklyn Nets have been obliterated by their opponents, it would be easy to conclude that this group simply doesn’t play for each other.
But then you watch the way they collectively embraced moments after Joe Johnson’s last-second shot found the bottom of the net on Thursday night, and you realize that chemistry off the court isn’t what’s held Brooklyn back this season.
After getting throttled during the first two-thirds of the road trip, Johnson and company appeared as though they were going for the hat trick against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They remained competitive from the outset, but the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder extended their lead to 16 shortly before halftime and it looked like this was going to be the biggest beatdown of them all.
Then the Nets decided to finally show some pride and fight back in the second half. This resulted in a 95-93 victory that the Thunder couldn’t see coming. It’s something no one watching could have seen coming.
It was like something straight out of Hollywood. The favorite dominates the underdog most of the night until the underdog comes back with body shots and shockingly wins the championship with a hay-maker in the final round.
Except there was no championship on the line. In fact, there wasn’t anything on the line for either side. Of course, how could there be in such a lopsided January 2 matchup?
And yet, you wouldn’t have thought that at all with the way the Nets huddled around Johnson after Sir Clutch came to the rescue yet again. Buzzer-beater reactions by teammates are always filled with joy no matter what time of season, but there was something much different about this one.
This one was flooded with emotion, encouragement and brotherhood.
When you expected the embrace to end it only continued. It was hard to watch without getting goosebumps.
It showed why it’s impossible to question this group’s desire to play and win for each other at the end of the day.