For Johan Petro, this was a long time coming.
The injury riddled New Jersey Nets needed a boost on Wednesday night, someone to provide minutes and production in the post after two big men — Shelden Williams and Jordan Williams — were struck with injuries.
Coach Avery Johnson turned to his big Frenchman and Johan didn't let him down.
JP played 14 big minutes for the Nets in the second half and gave his all, with four points, five rebounds and a block. His steadying presence with the roster down to just eight active players — only two of them big men — allowed the Nets to outscore the Indiana Pacers 31-17 in the fourth and roll to a 100-84 victory.
"Petro really saved us tonight, coach Avery Johnson said. "He was aggressive out there. He was in the right place at the right time and did a good job battling."
The Nets entered Wednesday's game with 10 healthy players, but starting center Shelden Williams went down with a right eye injury in the second quarter and had to be taken to the hospital. New Jersey went to rookie Jordan Williams, but midway through the third quarter, he was also knocked out of the game, after a battle in the post left him with concussion-like symptoms.
Johan checked in for Williams with 6:05 left in the third and the Nets down by three. New Jersey went on a run to retake the lead on a DeShawn Stevenson three and moments later JP made a huge block to keep the lead intact. The Nets led by two after three.
No. 27 grabbed three of his five rebounds within the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter and New Jersey scored eight unanswered points to open the quarter. When the Pacers finally got on the board, Johan answered with a dunk and the Nets took a 10-point lead with just over eight minutes to go. Moments later JP knocked down a hook shot and the Nets began to stretch their lead. They went on to a 16-point victory, their highest win margin of the season.
"It felt good," JP told Examiner.com. "It feels good to be recognized, I guess, to be part of the win."
Johan throws down a dunk for two of his four points during Monday's game against Utah (Getty Images).
It was the second straight game that JP has grabbed at least five rebounds. He pulled down seven, including four off the offensive glass, in 14 minutes during Monday's loss to the Utah Jazz. He also added four points and two assists that night. After Wednesday's game, Johan counted frustration as the main factor in his inspired performances.
"I've been in tough situations, not playing, getting my first DNP not too long ago, playing limited minutes. All that building up," he told the New York Post. "[I try to] stay positive. I guess the whole frustration of this past week just got me feeling some type of way, and I try to go out and have the best [game] possible."
Johan and the Nets now embark on a four-game West Coast road trip beginning on Friday night.
The Nets open the trip in Oakland where they'll take on the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Tip-off is set for 10:30 EST and will be televised on YES.