Thursday , May , 12 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Surgery slated for Suns Johnson

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Phoenix Suns guard Joe Johnson will have
surgery on Thursday to repair a displaced fracture of his left orbital bone,
which he suffered in Game 2 of his team’s 108-106 loss to the Dallas Mavericks
at America West Arena in the Western Conference semifinals.

Originally the plan was for Johnson to miss Game 3 on Friday, then wear a
protective mask the rest of the way. However, with the surgery, he could be
lost for the entire series.

Johnson, who has yet to miss a game for Phoenix since being acquired in
February of 2002, was fouled hard by Dallas’ Jerry Stackhouse driving to the
basket late in the first half, landing face-first on the court. Johnson, who
was cut near the left eye, stayed on the floor for several minutes and an
intentional foul was called.

“I don’t want to hurt anybody and it wasn’t intentional,” Stackhouse said. “I
was just challenging him. I had all ball. It was his momentum holding onto the
rim and he just came down. It was unfortunate. I hope he’s fine and he comes
back. He’s a key part of this series.”

In order to stay in the game, Johnson had to shoot the free throws. He did and
made 1-of-2.

“He was pretty out of it,” head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson told Suns.com.
“We were trying to ask him questions to find out how severe a concussion it
was. So we were like, ‘Can you shoot the free throws?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah,
yeah, let’s go.’ So I put (sterile) strips on his eye. I told him, ‘don’t open
your eye.’ That’s probably why he missed the first one, and then the second
one he was able to zoom in and hit it.”

Johnson, who had eight points, left the game after shooting the free throws
and received six stitches to close the cut.

“We need him. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders we have,” said Phoenix
forward Shawn Marion. “We’re going to miss him, but we’ve got to step it up
until he comes back, and try to hold the fort down.”

The 23-year-old Johnson had been an integral part of the Suns postseason
success, as he averaged 21.2 points through his first five playoff games.

PHO