March is shaping up to be one of the best months of Johan Petro's career.
Johan got big minutes for the Nets on Friday night in Orlando, logging a team-high 32, and he made them count, grabbing seven rebounds to go along with eight points, four assists and two steals in the 86-70 loss.
Johan grabbed seven rebounds in Orlando on Friday and is averaging five per game in March (Getty Images).
The game was Johan's fifth straight playing at least 20 minutes, and No. 27 has grabbed at least four rebounds in each of those contests.
"It's definitely a focal point that I'm trying to really pay attention to," Johan said of his rebounding. "I've been more focused about it. That was one of my downsides when the season started, so I've tried to think about it a little bit more. I've tried to not foul too much so I can be on the floor. Just being on the floor gives me a chance to grab more rebounds."
For the month, JP is averaging 20.9 minutes and 5.4 rebounds per game, his best rebounding numbers since the 2007-2008 season. His minutes dipped back to 10 in Saturday night's 102-94 loss to the Hornets and Johan believes that's a product of the start he got off to, picking up two quick fouls in the second quarter.
He's been working on entering each game with the right mindset, to be aggressive and make the right play each time the ball finds him, or his man when he's on defense.
"How I start is going to determine how
I finish the game, how many minutes I'm going to play," he said. "The more minutes you get, the more you're able to do."
Statistics back up Johan's assertion that production is a direct product of the amount a time a player spends on the floor and the ability
to develop rhythm.
In Orlando, Johan was active during his first few minutes, contributing four points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal.
His play earned him almost the entire quarter on the floor. He also played half the third quarter
and all of the fourth.
"I feel I need to start the game, whatever game it is, the same way [I did in Orlando]. It starts with a lot of intensity, being aggressive, not passing up open shots and not turning the ball over," he said. "Try to make those shots right under the basket, try to finish in the paint and grab those rebounds."
Johan's increased minutes have also been a product of the continued injury woes of his Nets teammates. In fact, Johan is one of only five players to have played in at least 40 of the team's 46 games this season. He's hopeful that with a continued eye on keeping himself well-conditioned and healthy, he can finish the season strong.
"Whatever I've been doing, I'm trying to keep it going because it's still a long way to the end of the season and you have to keep your body healthy," he said.
A MISSING PIECE
The Nets used the March 15th trade deadline to add a much needed piece to the team when they traded Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a draft pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace.
Johan believes Wallace is an important addition to the team.
"Gerald is a player that fills a need," he said. "He's a three-man who is strong with the ball. He'll run the floor, he'll block some shots and he's definitely a good presence in the locker room."
No. 27 also believes that the team's trade for Wallace signals some faith from the Nets front office in the current group of players.
"The front office didn't quit on us and say 'We don't need to make any moves. Just wait for next year.' They tried to improve the team for right now and they did that," he said.
Now JP says the task falls on each player in the locker room to finish the season strong and make a run at the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot. The Nets sit 6.5 games out of that spot with 20 to play, a tough mountain to climb. But it's a fight they're not willing to give up just yet.
"We have to come out there on the floor and win games," he said. "We're still thinking about that lost spot in the playoffs. We're trying to win as many games as possible so we might have a chance to still make that eighth seed. That's what's driving us right now. We have to get those games that we're supposed to win, get as many wins as possible."
The Nets have the chance to get one of those games and take down a team that is currently ahead of them in the process when hey host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at Prudential Center.
The Cavs are just 3.5 games out of the eight spot with 24 to play and the Nets have split a pair of games between the two teams already this season. The rubber match tips off on Monday at 7:30 EST and the game can be seen on YES.