Johnson makes hot start to Heat life as Miami burn Knicks

Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:01am EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran Joe Johnson signed with the Miami Heat on Saturday and on Sunday the versatile swing man was thrown right into the fire, delivering in a victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Seven-time All-Star Johnson scored 12 points with three assists and three rebounds while providing strong defense in 30 minutes on the floor in Miami's 98-81 win over the home team.

"I have never joined a team mid-season. This is kind of new," said 34-year-old Johnson, who became friends with Heat stalwart Dwyane Wade when they played together on the 2006 U.S. team at the world basketball championship in Japan.

"I am up for it. It is a challenge. Every game out is going to be playoff like."

Johnson was cut loose by the rebuilding Brooklyn Nets (17-42). He became a free agent at 5 PM ET on Saturday and said that by 5:01 he had decided to sign with Miami (33-26), who are fourth-best in the Eastern Conference.

Wade's lobbying helped the Heat add an all-around force to pick up the slack for the sidelined Chris Bosh.

"We felt like he can be a big part of it. He understood that. He is a smart basketball player. He knew he could fit in," Wade told reporters after the win.

Johnson and Wade became the only active NBA players on the same roster to each score at least 18,500 points.   Continued...

Miami Heat small forward Joe Johnson (2) warms up before a game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports