Johan Petro has found a quiet confidence in his role with Nets over the last few weeks and the results are showing up on the court each night.
Johan scored 10 points in 23 minutes on Wednesday, his second double-digit game in the Nets' last three (Getty Images).
After a productive weekend, including season-high 16-point performance in Detroit, Johan gave New Jersey another double-digit night on Wednesday, scoring 10 points and playing key minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies.
"It was just a confidence booster," he said of the game against Detroit last Friday. "I haven't found myself offensively like this in a long time. It definitely felt good. It showed me what I'm capable of doing. I'm definitely trying to get the same thing out of myself every night."
Though the Nets dropped Wednesday's game, 105-100, there were plenty of positives to take from the way they handled a playoff contending team like the Grizzlies. Chief among things to be optimistic about, according to coach Avery Johnson, was the play of the Nets' bench.
"Looking at what our bench did tonight, that's a positive for us," Coach Avery Johnson said. "Morrow, Gaines, Emmett and Petro, with those guys, if we can get that type of consistency off our bench, we'll be in good shape."
In recent weeks, Johan has proven that, given the opportunity, he can produce. In addition to his 10 points on 4-for-6 from the field, No. 27 added four defensive rebounds, a steal and a block in 23 minutes of play. JP was also solid from behind the foul line, shooting 100 percent for the second game in a row.
Johan said his success is a direct product of a change in his mindset. After contributing to the Nets for the first month of the year, Johan found himself out of the rotation at the beginning of February, playing few minutes each game, if at all. He decided the only person who could change the way things were headed was himself.
"I wasn't playing about four games ago. I found myself out of the rotation. So I just decided to be more aggressive all around," JP said. "I don't know if it pays off, but I'm just trying to be more aggressive. Going more to the basket, trying to hit my open shots."
He's been doing that with increased efficiency over the last three games, knocking down 13-of-21 shots (69 percent). He's also a perfect six-of-six from the line in those three games. The work has afforded Johan more time on the floor, as Johnson has rewarded him with 20 minutes of run each of the last three games.
Quietly and proficiently, Johan has made his minutes count and added something to the Nets that they dearly needed in the post. He said he finally feels comfortable with his role, his teammates, the setting, and himself.
"It's a mindset, that I probably didn't have the last year and a half," he said. "Now, I'm starting to really be comfortable with everybody here and myself, what I can do."
On Wednesday, Johan helped contribute to one of the best halves the Nets have played all season. After opening the game slow, the Nets jumped out on a huge run at the end of the first quarter. JP has a big hand in it, as he entered the game with 6:24 left in the first and hit a layup less than thirty seconds later. His bucket brought New Jersey within five.
The last 1:30 of the first was when Johan laid it all on the line as he collected three defensive rebounds, blocked a shot and hit a 20-foot jumper with 1:04 to go to put the Nets in front by one. At the end of the quarter, they led by five.
Johan added a seven-foot running jumper early in the second and the Nets, who shot 53 percent in the first half, pushed out to an 11-point lead. The Grizzlies finished the half on a 12-3 run, but New Jersey still held a two-point lead entering the last 24 minutes of the game.
The Nets found themselves trailing 77-69 with just over four minutes left to play in the third quarter, but JP helped his team finish the period and close the gap with a 9-0 run, His 17-foot jumper with 1:23 left brought them back within two and Sundiata Gaines followed with a trey to give NJ a one-point lead heading to the fourth.
Johan sank two free throws to start the final frame and push the Nets up by three. But neither team could establish a consistent lead during the first several minutes of the fourth. The Nets found themselves in front by one with 3:18 to go, but turnover trouble when it counted most — in the final three minutes— cost them dearly and handed the game to Memphis.
"The difference between where we want to be at and where we are right now, right now we are a team that turns the ball over three of four possessions with the game on the line," said teammate Kris Humphries. "It's no one's fault, in particular, we just have to tighten and be able to play under pressure in the fourth quarter. There is no play you can draw up for that. We just have to play basketball and execute. We didn't give ourselves a chance to win."
After the game Johan and the Nets left the familiarity of the Prudential Center and headed to Indiana where they will take on the Pacers tonight. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. EST and the game will be televised on YES.