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Tip-Off Timer: Joe Johnson Scores 35 in Fleeting Moment of Relevance

Sep 22, 2009 – 9:00 AM
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Matt Moore

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Tip-Off Timer counts down the days until the first game of the 2009-10 season. On Tuesday, there are 35 days remaining.

Joe Johnson begins his eighth season in the NBA this year. During that time, he's barely scratched the radar of the average NBA fan. His biggest anecdote prior to 2007 was the fact that he was injured during a critical Phoenix playoff run. When he went to Atlanta, it was like he dropped off the face of the planet.

But in the spring of 2008, if only for a moment in the public's eye, Joe Johnson made himself a known man.

The Hawks were expected to be less than practice fodder for the league leading Celtics. They were demolished in Boston, heading home down 0-2. And then something bizarre started happening: the Hawks fought back. Johnson was the catalyst. They somehow managed to win Game 3, sitting up the pivotal Game 4.

Going into the fourth, Johnson had 15 points, not bad, but the Hawks still found themselves down 10. He exploded for 20 points in the fourth quarter. The way he did it, though, was personal domination in a way we've only seen from the truly greats. Jordan. Kobe. LeBron. Wade. Three pointers. Sliding in-between two defenders on the drive for scoop shots. And one immortal ankle breaking.

It takes something incredible to make history even when you lose -- in the first round, by quite a lot, to the team that ends up winning the championship. But the way Johnson played that night is representative of why we watch the games, why we we gape in awe at the ability of players to seemingly capture the fire of the Gods themselves. And if that seems over the top and ridiculous? Well, I'd ask you take a look at the evidence:

Filed under: Sports