Joe Johnson gained a quick reputation in Brooklyn for making the huge shots when his team needed them the most.
But according to Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, that was so last year.
This season, it’s been Jarrett Jack who’s been hitting the game-winners — two of them recently, in fact, which has earned his coach’s trust.
It was no different Friday night against the Suns, where Jack once again was given the opportunity to win it at the buzzer. But what was different was the fact that Johnson was on the bench, which led to reporters questioning Hollins for going away from Johnson in such a seemingly dramatic fashion.
“I knew Jarrett was going to shoot the ball,” Hollins said. “I got asked that last night. It doesn’t matter [who was in the game]. We could have put four people in the stands; Jarrett was going to shoot the ball. If I run a pick and roll for Jarrett he’s going to shoot the ball and he got a good shot and he missed it. It went in and out. If it goes in, you guys aren’t standing here asking me who gets the last shot.”
Up until as recently as January, Johnson was the Nets’ undisputed weapon of choice in the clutch.
He started his Nets career 7-for-7 when the game was tied, or the Nets trailed by less than four points with under 10 seconds left. But this year, Johnson missed his first four shots in those same situations. …
“Why do you think Joe should take the final shot all the time, because he’s been doing it?” Hollins said. “Tradition? And why you let them tear down that [old] building and put a parking lot? … You don’t go to fight for that [expletive]. Things change.”
Johnson did say it was a bit “puzzling” for him to be on the bench during an end of game situation, but he made it clear he wasn’t upset by it.
This appears to be a case of the media digging for something that simply isn’t there, and Hollins’ somewhat exasperated response seems to back up that assertion.