Joe Johnson seems like a really good guy – humble, low-key, not prone to idiotic statements or actions. A quiet professional who goes about his business, doesn’t make stupid plays on the court, and in his prime, was a very good shooting guard … five times over 20 points per game, three times at least 5.8 dimes, made six All-Star teams, but probably deserved to make just four. Which brings us to his Midas touch career, in terms of rewards: compensation, acclaim, and basically a free pass from sportswriters. He’s moved beyond the second round of the playoffs once in his career, and that was as the No. 4 guy on the fantastically fun-to-watch 2004-05 Phoenix team with Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Shawn “The Matrix” Marion as The Big 3. That’s also the only time he’s ever shot better than 43.9% in the playoffs – 50.4% – but he also missed six games in those playoffs. His 2-for-14 performance (with just three rebounds, two assists) in the Game 7 loss vs. Chicago was anything but an aberration when it comes to do-or-die playoff performances from him. In his last game of the playoffs (eight games), his career shooting percentage is 34.1% … 36.5% before the debacle against the Chicago Bulls. He has never shot better than 50% in any of those games. His career shooting percentage in the playoffs (69 games) is 41.4%. He was overpaid as a free agent leaving Phoenix for Atlanta ($67 mil/five years), but that was just a precursor to the really massive overpayment in 2010 – $123 mil/six years – as a 29-year-old coming off a second-round sweep at the hands of the Magic in which Joe averaged 12.8/4.5/3.8 while shooting 29.8% in the series…17.6% from distance! And then, to top it all off, the Nets actually traded to acquire this contract! Congrats Brooklyn, without Joe, you might have been an eighth seed and lost in four games to Miami, not seven games to an undermanned Bulls squad. And I don’t know about his local press in Atlanta or now Brooklyn, but it seems his low-key, humble nature has given him a pass with the national media. A charmed life…and a tragic contract.
OKC 93, MEMPHIS 91 – Tight action in Oklahoma as Quincy Pondexter missed the first of three free throws with the Grizz down by three, 1.6 seconds remaining. He made the second, missed the third on purpose, but OKC kept the rebound away from Memphis, and the Thunder escaped. Durant did everything for OKC (more below), while Kevin Martin had his second straight strong performance (25 points and seven rebounds) after going 1-for-10 in Game 5 vs. Houston. He also scored 25 when they closed out the Rockets. And to be fair…yes, The Mangy Mutt had a big play for the Thunder, stealing the ball from Mike Conley with a minute left, OKC down by one, which led to the last of Durant’s 35 points. Gasol (20/10/3, 3 steals, 2 blocks) and Zach Randolph (18/10) led Memphis while outside of KD & K-Mart, only one other Thunder hit double figures – 12 points from Mr. October (who had a really nice close-out Game 6 performance with 17 points, seven rebounds and eight dimes). The Thunder need to get more balanced and again, more from Serge Ibaka to have any hope of reaching The Finals again.
INDY 102, N.Y. 95 – Once again, Carmelo Anthony’s shooting was way too mellow, hitting just 10 of 28 in the game, while J.R. Smith also had troubles finding the hoop (4-for-15). In his last 4 games, Carmelo has made 35 of 110 shots (31.8%) while Smith has missed 30 of 42 in his last 3 games (28.6%). Additionally, Tyson Chandler was awful in the game, somehow managing to notch more fouls (six) and turnovers (two) combined than points (three) and rebounds (four) in 28 horrible minutes. After seven playoff games, he’s still looking for his first double-digit effort, and is not averaging a block a game, either (six total so far). Raymond Felton has been by far the most consistent Knick in the playoffs (17.3/3.7/5.0, 49.1%). As for Indy, their starters played massive minutes (37, 39, 39, 43, 43) and they all contributed nicely – 20 points from David West, 19 points and four assists from Paul George, Roy Hibbert blocked five shots, George Hill had a solid game with 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. And one of the surprises of these playoffs so far, Lance Stephenson grabbed 13 rebounds to go with three steals, while scoring an efficient (you hear that Melo/JR…E-F-F-I-C-I-E-N-T) 11 points, going 5-for-9 from the floor. In the first real postseason action of his career (played a total of 12 minutes in four games last year), Lance is at 8.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 46%.
The Akeem Olajuwon Award — Kevin Durant — 35 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, nine free throws made, one steal, two blocks, 0 treys, and 13-for-26 shooting…Predictably with Russell Westbrook out, KD has been massive in the playoffs so far — 32.9/8.9/6.0, shooting 48.7%. Just to watch more of him is reason enough to hope they can somehow get into the The Finals again this year.
The Rafael Araujo Award — Jason Kidd — 0 points, two rebounds, one assist, 0 free throws made, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 0 treys, and 0-for-1 shooting in 17 minutes of floor time…Since we already pointed out the majorly deficient big men in OKC (Ibaka) and N.Y. (Chandler), I thought the 87-year-old Mr. Kidd would be a good candidate for the Bozo Award. Jason – please make this year your last.
P.S. Came across this funny little item …
From Marcus Thompson’s Twitter page (@gswscribe):
Warriors PG Stephen Curry was told Greg Popovich said watching him was like watching Jordan. Curry laughed: “Was he drunk when he said it?”
Todd Robinson is a contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. To read more of his articles, go to spdbrnr.wordpress.com.