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Net guard Joe Johnson must become a winner — not just a scorer — if the Nets want to come home again

for The Brooklyn Paper
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All season, star shooting guard Joe Johnson was a curious case. Five games into the playoffs, the mystery continues.

Johnson has talked a big game about the expectations for this Nets team. He said Brooklyn was the best team in New York. He said losing in the Eastern Conference finals would not be considered a success.

But if Joe wants to back all that up, he should stop disappearing in the middle of basketball games.

But, you say, what about those 22 points on 50 percent shooting in the Nets triple-overtime loss in Game 4? And surely averaging 16 points in the previous three games wasn’t so bad?

Those point totals aren’t anything new for Joe. In fact, they are the basis for why hearns $20 million a year. It’s all the other stuff — rebounds, assists, steals, blocks — that would be a welcome surprise.

Despite logging 36.7 minutes a night this season — tied for 17th in the league — Johnson was the NBA’s 185th most efficient player, a metric that calculates how frequently a player contributes across a host of statistical categories. That’s a lot of floor time for a guy who doesn’t do much besides occasionally putting the ball in the basket.

Sure, he sunk that runner to send Game 4 into double overtime. Of course he can hit those isolation pull-up jumpers when it seems nothing else is working for the Nets?

Yeah, all that stuff is awesome. But what was he doing in the interim when he made only three of 15 three-point attempts in Games Three, Four and Five? Shouldn’t a 6-foot-7 phenom making $100 million during the next five years grab more than three rebounds per contest? Shouldn’t he account for more than one assist or a single steal in a night’s work? Couldn’t he have come up with any blocks?

Long before he got to Brooklyn, the knock on ISO Joe was that he’s a scorer, not a winner.

So far this playoff, he’s done nothing to prove that reputation false.

Matt Spolar is a nearly 6-foot-1 journalist with a middling high school basketball career who is sure the Nets win thanks to team’s top-tier guards.

Posted 12:00 am, May 2, 2013
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