Joe Johnson helps US beat Puerto Rico 93-76 in qualifier

Feb 24, 2022, 3:53 AM | Updated: 7:04 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — As long as Joe Johnson can play basketball in some form or fashion, he figures there’s no need to contemplate the end of his career.

“I never look at it like that. I’m a guy who loves to hoop. Me and my son, he’s 15 years old, we’re in the gym almost every day working,” Johnson said. “So that’s never my thought process. Even though I’m not playing professionally, I still get a chance to compete.”

The 40-year-old Johnson’s latest opportunity is with the U.S. national team in World Cup qualifying, and he gave the Americans a lift Thursday night, scoring 18 points in a 93-76 win over Puerto Rico. The U.S. overcame a 10-point first-half deficit.

The Americans (2-1) only need to avoid finishing last in their four-team group to advance to the next round of qualifying, and they look eminently capable of clearing that bar despite the absence of NBA players. Johnson — a seven-time All-Star who briefly returned to the NBA and played in one game for the Boston Celtics in December — is the only big name on the current U.S. roster. Most of the players came from the G League.

Johnson was the only player over 30 on the U.S. roster.

“He is as professional a player and person as I’ve ever been around,” coach Jim Boylen said. “When you only have five days to prepare, you don’t have time to waste steps, so you need that. He’s got the experience, and he’s got great spirit about him. When you lead with humility, guys will follow you.”

The Puerto Ricans (1-2), who seemed to have most of the small crowd on their side, led 32-22 in the second quarter after a layup by Ismael Romero, but the U.S. fought its way back. The Americans trailed 44-42 at halftime, then dominated the third quarter.

Jared Harper’s 3-pointer gave the U.S. a 71-58 lead, and then a steal and dunk by Jordan Bell pushed the lead to 15.

The Americans will face Mexico on Sunday. The U.S. lost to Mexico 97-88 in November.

The other U.S. victory was 95-90 over Cuba. This was a much more emphatic win. Matt Ryan of the Grand Rapids Gold scored 15 points, and Justin Wright-Foreman of the Birmingham Squadron added 13.

Johnson shot 7 of 11 from the field and ended up playing 22:30.

“My game isn’t predicated on athleticism. Basically, it’s reads for me — just knowing how to play the game. I think at my age, if you can just still get up and down the floor with no problems man, your game is your game,” Johnson said. “Outthinking these guys is the way I play, and I play the right way. I play winning basketball.”

Javier Mojica led Puerto Rico with 18 points.

“The second half, when we go back in the game, they start very hot, making 3s,” Puerto Rico coach Nelson Colon said. “We start sloppy, flat, without energy.”

The World Cup takes place next year from Aug. 25-Sept. 10 in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines. Teams can qualify directly from the World Cup for the 2024 Olympics.


More AP sports: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Joe Johnson helps US beat Puerto Rico 93-76 in qualifier