By Ben Golliver
If you must blow a 27-point lead to win on a buzzer-beating three-pointer, this is definitely the way to do it.
Kings forward James Johnson hit a game-winning three-pointer to beat the Knicks 106-105 at Sleep Train Arena on Friday night. Johnson, who was zero-for-11 on three-pointers for the season entering Friday, delivered the stunning three after a mad scramble on both ends.
The craziness started with the Knicks leading 105-103 with the ball and 20 seconds remaining. Jason Kidd attempted to lob a pass to Tyson Chandler, only to have DeMarcus Cousins, in his first game back after a suspension, intercept the pass.
Cousins outletted the ball to Isaiah Thomas, who executed a quick passing exchange with Johnson before launching a mid-range jumper with 11 seconds remaining. Thomas' jumper hit only the backboard, but Johnson managed to back-tap the rebound out to the three-point line. Thomas tracked it down, dribbled into traffic and then got stuck in the air, deciding at the last minute to John Salmons in the corner. Salmons played hot potato with the ball with the Knicks' defense closing hard on him, feeding Johnson at the top of the key, although that pass was nearly deflected. Johnson then sized up his attempt with J.R. Smith closing on him from the side, burying the triple and sending his teammates and the home crowd to pure joy.
Video reviews showed that Johnson not only got the attempt off before the buzzer but that he was also behind the line, ensuring that overtime wasn't necessary. The shot capped a night in which the Kings led 71-47 just before halftime before the Knicks came storming all the way back in the second half. Johnson finished with a 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists on eight-for-14 shooting in 29 minutes. Marcus Thornton added a team-high 18 points and six different Kings finished in double figures. The Knicks were led by Smith, with 28 points, and Tyson Chandler, who finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds.