As New Jersey prepared to face Indiana in the 4th game of their Eastern Conference playoff series, the Nets’ Richard Jefferson claimed he’s less than stressed out over the way the Pacers’ Anthony Johnson has matched up with Jason Kidd.
Johnson, a third-string guard to start the season, made the plays in Game 1, and made more in Game 3, including 25 points and eight assists. He’s probably reached an expiration date on outplaying Kidd, but Johnson is so full of confidence, so full of belief, you’d kind of like Kidd to get out and cover him.
As usual Friday, Richard Jefferson was playing the part of contrarian, dismissing the alarms over his old teammate Johnson rising beyond a nuisance into a problem.
“Now it’s not like, ‘Oh my God, how are we going to stop the eight-time All-Star Anthony Johnson?’ “ Jefferson sniffed. “It’s not what are we going to do to stop Jermaine O’Neal from shooting 80 percent. They got hot and had unbelievable games. We don’t believe that it’s going to be the norm.”
Johnson is a better player. He plays with such a different confidence now, a different resolve. Still, Kidd doesn’t suffer embarrassment well. The great ones never do.
“Jermaine O’Neal really was their main guy for them, and then you try and collapse on him and [Johnson] gets hot out there,” Jefferson said. “A.J. has never done that before. He had a great game. To act like that’s going to be the norm over the series, I think everybody knows that’s not going to be the case. He got hot. He hit some big shots for them.”
Jefferson has 13 points midway through the 2nd quarter, with the Nets leading 33-20.