Johnson is KCC’s go-to-guy, and a classic closer

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Johnson is KCC’s go-to-guy, and a classic closer

Ivan Johnson of the KCC Egis has been the go-to-guy for his club in the fourth quarter. Johnson - who has the scoring touch, an imposing size and the demeanor to match - has always been a threat to opposing teams. But he has been stepping up his game as the clock winds down to the final buzzer in fourth quarter play. Johnson’s performance at crunch time is reminiscent of Hyundai Gulliver’s Cho Sung-won, who would drain three-pointers in bunches in the fourth quarter.

On Tuesday night, KCC defeated the Samsung Thunders 90-80 in Jamsil, southern Seoul. Johnson managed a season high of 33 points in the game but saved his best for the fourth quarter, when he poured in 16 points. It was an impressive feat considering his point total in the fourth quarter of the game surpassed his own season average of 14.4 points.

KCC head coach Hur Jae rotated Micah Brand and Johnson in and out of the lineup until the third quarter but stuck with Johnson in quarter four. Having started the fourth quarter up by a point, it didn’t take long for Johnson to make his presence felt. Johnson threw down a thunderous dunk in the early goings of the fourth quarter but he really took over the game in the middle of the quarter. Samsung tried to get back into the game with its center Terrence Leather, who possesses the most potent offensive game in the league, but Johnson responded with eight consecutive points.

KCC center Ha Seung-jin lacks foot speed so the Samsung players could use personal fouls to slow the big man down, but Johnson was too quick and powerful to be contained. The KCC players put their faith in Johnson and the burly forward responded with an impressive 67 percent shooting percentage from the field.

This season, Johnson has improved his fourth quarter play. Johnson has averaged 53 percent from the field this season but his fourth quarter average is 65 percent. The most notable game for Johnson this season was the Nov. 22 game against the SK Knights. Johnson put on a dominating performance in the fourth quarter, scoring a total of 20 points. He connected on five of six shots near the paint and drained both his attempts from beyond the arc.

In the three games between the Nov. 25 game against the Dongbu Promy and the Nov. 29 game against the SK Knights, Johnson put on another perfect show. He didn’t miss a shot in the fourth quarter in any of the three games. He has had a total of six such games so far this season out of 18, and has not shied away from the buzzer-beaters. He also connected on a three-point shot before the final buzzer on Tuesday night.


By Kim Woo-chul, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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