Former Utah Jazz players Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson arose victorious in the BIG3 Championship as the Triplets defeated the Killer 3’s 50-39.
Although September is far from being known as a heavy basketball month, Utah Jazz fans were treated to quite a show on the first day of the month. The day got kicked off with a Team USA win thanks to the epic play of leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, which I recapped here on The J-Notes earlier today.
Then after that, two beloved former Jazzmen, Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson, hit the hardwood at a high level competing for the BIG3 Championship with their Triplets team against former NBA great Stephen Jackson and his Killer 3’s squad.
The contest was an absolute battle from the onset as the two top-seeded BIG3 squads both looked determined to lay it all out on the floor and arise victorious. Both played with an intensity befitting of the type of professional and competitive basketball that the BIG3 has come to be known for.
Coming into the bout, Triplets were undefeated (6-0) in games in which Joe Johnson had scored 20 points or more. Joe certainly held up his end of the bargain as he surpassed the 20-point mark shortly after halftime and finished the contest with 28. His early success was enough to put Triplets up by a narrow 25-20 margin at halftime which was indicative of just how tightly contested the bout was.
In typical Triplets fashion, though, they came out of the second half strong and quickly took a 32-22 lead. For a moment it appeared as if the dominant Iso Joe, who was the BIG3 MVP this season, and his Triplets teammates including Al Jefferson, Alan Anderson and Jamario Moon would run away with the championship victory. But Stephen Jackson, C.J. Watson and one-time Weber State player Franklin Session had other plans. They soon went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to a mere three points.
The Killer 3’s began putting additional bodies on Johnson to force his teammates to shoulder the load in his place, which caused the Triplets offense to stall momentarily. Before long, the Killer 3’s, on the shoulders of Stephen Jackson, who finished with 19 points, cut the deficit to just two points – 41-39.
However, as should have certainly been to the relief and glee of Utah Jazz fans, Joe Johnson turned up the heat and took care of business from there. Despite a short stall in which the Killer 3’s held Joe in check and the likes of Moon and Anderson were forced to shoulder a momentary load, Iso Joe came up clutch when it mattered most. First, he hit a clutch three to put the Triplets up 47-39, then followed it up immediately with yet another game-winning shot, a three-pointer to close out the game 50-39.
Check it out yourself in the clip below:
The incredible season-long effort by the Triplets resulted in their hoisting the Julius Erving Championship Trophy thanks to the herculean effort of league MVP Joe Johnson, who led his squad to a 9-1 record and notched 28 points in the championship game.
Alan Anderson and Jamario Moon also played well as they both added 11 points of their own to round out the Triplets’ 50 points. Al Jefferson didn’t play a ton in the championship game (just six minutes) due to some matchup issues against the Killer 3’s, but he was an instrumental part of the team’s success all season long.
With the BIG3 coming to a close, the big question now facing former Jazzman Joe Johnson is what will be next for him? Will he simply return to the BIG3 next year to defend his MVP title and championship alongside reigning Coach of the Year Lisa Leslie? Or will the NBA come calling and give him a chance to rewrite what was a disappointing conclusion to his final season in the Association.
He’s already worked out for a handful of NBA teams, and in my humble opinion, he’s more than deserving of an NBA roster spot. Despite some limitations due to age and declining athleticism, his ability to score in the post in isolation and his undeniable clutch gene remain alive and well. Johnson could help several NBA teams and is too talented to be watching from the sidelines when the 2019-20 season gets underway this October.
Regardless of where he ends up, for now the moment is all his. A one-time beloved Utah Jazz player is now a BIG3 Champion and MVP, who ended the 2019 BIG3 season in a perfectly fitting fashion for how he played all summer.