SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Facing what amounts to a must-win
situation, the Phoenix Suns will be happy to get back Joe
Johnson when they visit the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday in
Game Three of the Western Conference Finals.
Johnson, who has been out since Game Two of the conference
semifinals as he recovers from a fractured orbital bone, has
declared himself ready to go Saturday when the Suns try to chip
away at a 2-0 deficit.
Perhaps still fatigued from a wild win over the Dallas Mavericks
in the semifinals and with Johnson unable to go, Phoenix ran
out of steam late in losing the first two games at home.
The Suns got their usual efforts from MVP Steve Nash and Amare
Stoudemire, but had no answer for Spurs forward Tim Duncan down
the stretch in both losses. Duncan scored 11 of his 28 points
in the fourth quarter of Game One and 25 of his 30 after
halftime in Game Two on Tuesday.
Behind Duncan's strong play, San Antonio claimed a 111-108
victory Tuesday, erasing a fourth-quarter deficit for the second
straight time to win its fourth consecutive playoff game.
The Spurs' dynamic backcourt of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili
combined for 50 points and Nazr Mohammed added 11 points, eight
rebounds, three steals and two blocks. San Antonio became just
the 16th team in conference finals history to sweep the first
two games on the road.
Since Duncan joined San Antonio, the club is 7-1 in playoff
series in which it won the first two games, sweeping three of
Nash continued a wonderful postseason Tuesday with 29 points and
15 assists and Stoudemire added 37 points, but Phoenix lost for
the third time in its last four home games.
Johnson will be fitted with a protective mask but still should
see plenty of minutes for a Suns squad that had just six players
see more than two minutes Tuesday.