When it comes to hero types, Joe Johnson doesn't really fit the current mold.
Flashy costumed superheroes engaged in battles with villains bent on destroying the world, sometimes with help from aliens, are not a good fit with the laconic, relaxed Johnson. If you put him into a Western from the old days, though, it's a perfect fit.
Johnson could be The Man With No Name, riding into a village to ward off the bad guys and restore order without wasting a word or a movement in the process. Then he'd hop back onto his horse and ride off into the sunset again without needing to bask in the adulation of the masses like so many of his peers.
Johnson saved the village of Brooklyn twice in Tuesday night's 113-111 overtime win against the Bucks, sinking a three at the end of regulation to tie the game and then winning it at the buzzer in overtime with a fading jumper off a crossover. Everyone in the building knew Johnson was getting the ball both times, information that didn't make it any likelier that the Bucks were going to be able to stop him.
It's become a familiar sight at the end of close games. Johnson's sunk winners in three other games this season and there's no player in the league who's been better in the tail end of close games all season.
As Howard Beck of the New York Times points out, Johnson has made 9-of-10 shots in the final minute of games when the margin is three points or fewer and all four of his shots in the final 10 seconds of games with the same margin. That clutch touch is an awfully nice thing to have in your pocket, but especially nice when your other two big stars are off their games.
Brook Lopez was at Barclays in body, but his spirit seemed locked to the All-Star bench in Houston as he shot poorly and wound up getting benched for the entire fourth quarter in favor of Andray Blatche. It was a bad night for Lopez, which is better than the continuation of a bad stretch for Deron Williams.
On the surface, it looks like Williams did well in his return from two games off to rest his aching ankles. He had 19 points and nine assists while playing 44 minutes in a win for his team.
Williams didn't look any healthier than the last time we saw him, however, and any positives were erased by six turnovers and Brandon Jennings eating Williams alive for 34 points. It's a tricky situation that the Nets are dealing with in terms of Williams because he's their franchise player who clearly wants to play, but it's just as clear that he's hurting as much or more than he's helping at this point.
Thanks to Lopez and Williams, the Nets were left looking for a hero to save them on Tuesday. It's a good thing they have one ready to draw and fire when the situation demands it.