Friday , May , 27 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Suns should get lift with return of Johnson

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Phoenix Suns guard Joe Johnson is expected to
be back in the starting lineup Saturday for Game 3 of the Western Conference
finals against San Antonio.

Johnson, the Suns third leading scorer, has not played since being injured on
May 11 in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against Dallas. He suffered a
displaced fracture of his left orbital bone and underwent surgery to repair
the damage the next day.

He returned to practice on Thursday wearing a protective mask and declared
himself ready for Game 3.

The Suns went on to beat the Mavericks in six games in the best-of-seven
series without Johnson. Phoenix, however, has dropped the first two games of
the conference finals at home against the Spurs.

The 23-year-old Johnson had never missed a game for Phoenix since being
acquired in February of 2002. He was injured when fouled hard by Dallas’
Jerry Stackhouse as he was 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.

Johnson left the game after shooting two free throws and received six
stitches to close the cut. He has been an integral part of the Suns
postseason success, as he averaged 21.2 points through his first six
playoff games.