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Johnson hits game-winner versus Knicks in crazy game home game

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Yeah, that’s it. Unlikely.

Of all the words you could use to describe the way Friday night’s Sacramento Kings game ended, unlikely probably suits it best.

In a game that saw the Kings get a 27-point lead, lose that lead and then have a guy hit his first three-pointer of the season just as time ran out for the win – yeah, very unlikely.

James Johnson hits the game-winner with no time left on the clock! What a win!

The Kings beat the visiting Knicks 106-105 on a buzzer-beating shot by James Johnson at Sleep Train Arena on Friday evening in a game that kept every fan on edge of their seats until the finals clicks on the clock ran dry.

“That’s all I’m rolling on right now is confidence,” Johnson said. “As long as I can continue working on my game and dropping shots, I think my confidence is going to keep getting bigger for this team.”

With the 21-8 New York Knicks in town, the home team was hitting on all cylinders in the first half and had forged their way to a huge lead at one time.

With all that said, this is the 2012-13 Kings we’re talking about and no lead is safe this season.

Everything they had built up in the first half came crumbling down like a house of cards in the second half as the Knicks shot 60 percent in the third and 50 in the fourth while the Kings shot 35 and 29.2 percent respectively.

Even though no one was quite fleeing towards the exits like a cattle stampede, you could feel the air start to leak out of the arena. Kings fans have seen this game way too many times in this and recent seasons.

With all that said, the man who has had the most controversy surrounding him this campaign, DeMarcus Cousins, made the defensive play of the day.

On the final offensive play by the Knicks, Jason Kidd held the ball far above the three-point line as Isaiah Thomas guarded him. Kidd waited until their was eight seconds left on the shot clock and made his move towards the key.

When Cousins came out to double – as Kidd had hoped – Kidd tried to dump a lob pass into Tyson Chandler who had peeled off of Cousins and was heading to the hoop.

Cousins saw this, backed up and jumped in time to intercept the ball and save the day.

With 15 clicks left on the clock, the Kings scrambled to the other end of the floor. Thomas missed the first attempt with nine seconds left, then grabbed a long rebound and found John Salmons in the corner for what looked like an open three attempt. Kidd covered the spot in time and Salmons was forced to toss it to Johnson who just did what he’s supposed to do – catch and shoot.

He did and the rest, as they say, is history.

—–     —–     —–     —–     —–

We here at the SacPress, in our third year covering the Kings, have tried to give you more than game stories this season.

I mean, you can read those on numerous sights these days, and besides, we think you want to know more about the players than the game itself.

You see, I decide who I’m going to write about way before the game even gets started.

On Friday, I got very lucky.

As I scurried through the Kings locker room before the game looking for an angle for my piece like a rat looking for cheese, I decided to highlight James Johnson because of all the hard work he’s put in lately in improving his shot.

And wouldn’t you know, all that hard work paid off as he hit the game-winner on his first three-ball of the season.

But let’s go back to when Johnson, who had come here trying to steady his career, was removed from the starting lineup and relegated to the bench only a handful of games into the season because of his lack of scoring.

“Just like you were saying, I wasn’t hitting my shot,” Johnson said. “This is a game of making shots. We were having a slow start in the first quarters, not getting past 25 points and Coach Smart thought I was one of the reasons why so I came out.”

Johnson never stopped working on his shot and grinding away at making himself more valuable to this team.

But it was when he took some extra time with Alex English and Bobby Jackson, two of the Kings assistant coaches, that he found what he was looking for – consistency.

“My shot has been looking good for me,” Johnson said. “When I get open, I’m gonna take the shots because I know that I have a great opportunity of making them. I’ve been working after practice every time with Bobby Jackson and (Alex) English with his expertise in scoring the ball. I’ve tried to take a little bit of that from him, but all-in-all, I’ve just been working on my game.”

English said that he didn’t have to do much to help Johnson, but he did bring up one key word – consistency.

“James has got a lot of skill,” English started out. “With his jump shot, it’s just a matter of being consistent with it and doing it one way all the time.”

English has worked with many guys on their shot and, it seems, everybody has a different idea of what the perfect jumper should look like. English denies this and says you can shoot it any way you want as long as you are, you guessed it, consistent.

“If you ever watched my shot, it’s not orthodox,” English said. “I kept working on it and working on it and that’s what I’ve tried to instill in him. You listen to all of these different things that people tell you what to do and you change your shot every two or three weeks. You can’t do that. Just do it! Shoot the shot. The only thing you have to do with your shot and doing it the same way every time is your follow through. Making sure you hold it up long enough for the ball to go through.”

If you watch Johnson lately, that’s exactly what he’s been trying to do. Shoot the shot without thinking about it and keep the same follow through each time.

Lately, Johnson has been seeing some quality time at the power forward position. Most times, coaches see the mismatches only one way. That is to say the coach is more worried about matching up to the opposing team instead of making the opposing team matchup to his lineup.

When you put Johnson out there at the four, it creates a great mismatch in which the Kings are starting to take advantage.

“I know that there are a lot of fours out there that have great footwork in the post, but at the same time, they have to come down and guard me on defense,” Johnson said.

Here’s to the hard work James Johnson has put in this season and to me getting lucky again during this Kings campaign!





Jason Kidd makes a drive towards the rim. Kidd scored 16 points, had 7 assists and 6 rebounds.
J.R. Smith pulls up for a jumper over john Salmons. Smith had a game-high 28 points off the bench for the Knicks
Pablo Prigioni Gets trapped by the collapsing defense of Isaiah Thomas and Salmons
DeMarcus Cousins, in his frist game back after a one-game suspension, had 15 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block
Aaron Brooks with the most unbelievable block I’ve ever seen. He tracked down Chris Copeland and caught him from behind.
Thornton is stating to look like the Thornton of last year as he scored 18 in the game.
Cousins drives to the rack around Copeland for the bucket.
The Kings are dejected after blowing a 27-point lead and letting the Knicks take the lead for the first time with 5:58 left.
James Johnson never gave up and neither did the rest of the Royal Court boys!
Aaron Brooks tries to get by Kidd, but Kidd tied him up for the jump ball.
Cousins with another drive to the bucket, this time he scores.
Thomas was just too fast for the aging Jason Kidd.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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