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Thursday, May 12, 2005
Johnson sidelined by broken bone in eye socket

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Phoenix Suns guard Joe Johnson underwent surgery Thursday to repair a displaced fracture in the bone around his left eye.

Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson still shot his free throws after fracturing a bone in his face.

The starting guard, who has played in all 287 games since coming to the Suns in his rookie season, will miss at least the next two games of the team's Western Conference semifinal series against Dallas and probably Game 5 in Phoenix as well, Suns president Bryan Colangelo said.

"He underwent reconstructive surgery for an orbital fracture," Dr. Edward Joganic, who performed the operation, said in a statement.

"Surgery went smoothly and he is expected to recover fully," Joganic said. "We will continue to evaluate Joe and assess his ability to play in the remainder of the playoffs in one week."

Colangelo said the team wasn't going to be more specific about how long Johnson could be out.

Johnson was injured when he was fouled by Jerry Stackhouse on a drive to the basket late in the first half of the Suns' 108-106 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday night. The 6-foot-7 guard hung on the rim briefly, then crashed face-first to the floor, and lay there for several minutes while receiving six stitches to close a cut near the eye.

Johnson climbed to his feet and made one of two free throws before leaving the game.

Stackhouse was called for a flagrant foul, but the NBA rescinded it Thursday after reviewing the play.

Most Total Minutes Played
2004-05 Season
Player Total minutes MPG
LeBron James 3,388 42.5
Stephon Marbury 3,281 40.0
Gilbert Arenas 3,274 40.9
Joe Johnson 3,240 39.5
Tracy McGrady 3,182 40.8

Teammate Steve Nash visited Johnson in the hospital after the surgery. Johnson, who also sustained a mild concussion, had no memory of the game, Nash said.

"He seemed pretty good this morning. He didn't seem too depressed," Nash said. "His friends and his family were there. His agent was there. He's doing OK. He had a lot of support so he's fine."

Johnson has averaged 19 points a game in the playoffs, third-highest on the team. He has shot 57 percent from 3-point range (13-for-23), best of any player in the postseason.

"Joe's been an iron man for us," Nash said after the Suns practiced Thursday before leaving for Dallas. "He never misses a practice. He never misses a game. He's been such a huge part of our team. He's had a great year, and he's a great guy. It's really tough for us. We're just going to have to rally together and get it done for him."

Jim Jackson will move into the starting lineup for Game 3 on Friday night. Coach Mike D'Antoni said the team's biggest concern is for Johnson.

"I think everybody really feels sorry for Joe," D'Antoni said. "We're not down as a team. We know what we can still do, but for probably the nicest guy around, to not be able to participate, we feel sorry for Joe."