PHOENIX (AP) -- Joe Johnson no longer worries about being yanked
from the court in favor of Penny Hardaway -- and the result has been
a surge in self-confidence.
Johnson scored a season-high 26 points on 12-for-16 shooting --
most of them from the outside -- and the Phoenix Suns beat the
Golden State Warriors 104-91 on Friday night.
The young guard acknowledged he feels more at ease since
Hardaway was traded to New York. They had shared time at shooting
"It was hard," Johnson said. "When you get out there in the
game and you take a shot, you kind of feel like you've got to make
it so you don't have to worry about looking over your shoulder
seeing if a guy is checking in for you."
Johnson has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four
"I'm not going out there worried about the last shot I took,"
he said. "I'm just out there just going through the flow of the
game, and when the shot's there, take it. If it's not, make an easy
pass to another guy for an easy shot."
Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire added 21 points apiece for the
Suns, who set a season high for shooting percentage for the second
night in a row. Phoenix, which shot 56 percent, has won two
straight after snapping a six-game losing streak in Portland on
"We're playing better," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're
trying to do the right things."
Marion shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-3 on
3-pointers. He also grabbed nine rebounds, had four steals and
blocked three shots.
Johnson, who fell one point shy of his career high, lifted
Phoenix out of trouble with outside jumpers three times in the
final 6:14. He sank an 18-footer and was fouled for a three-point
play to make it 98-87 with 4:26 to go, then made a floating runner
with 2:53 left to put the Suns up 100-91.
The injury-plagued Warriors lost their 10th road game in a row.
"We've got to come out with more of a sense of urgency,"
Speedy Claxton said. "I'm very surprised, coming off a great win
last night, I expected more."
Mike Dunleavy and Erick Dampier each scored 19 points for the
Warriors, playing their fourth game in five nights. Claxton added
18 points, including 10-of-10 shooting on free throws.
Cliff Robinson, who tied a franchise record with seven
3-pointers against Cleveland on Thursday night, went 3-of-13,
including 1-of-4 on 3s.
"Obviously, with all the injuries we had and such, back-to-back
affected us a little bit," Golden State coach Eric Musselman said.
"We're certainly not using that as an excuse, but I do think we
had some tired legs tonight."
Phoenix went 9-of-12 on 3-pointers, with six players sinking at
least one 3.
The Suns led by 11 in the first quarter, 20 in the second and 24
in the third.
But Phoenix committed eight turnovers and Golden State outscored
the Suns 13-4 over the last 5:06 of the third quarter to cut the
lead to 84-72 entering the fourth. The run reached 15-4 when
Calbert Cheaney's 16-footer made it 84-74 with 9:32 to play.
Cheaney sliced it to 98-91 with 3:13 to play, but Johnson sank a
5-foot runner, then Marion scored on a drive and the Suns pulled
away from there.
Phoenix shot 68 percent (25-for-37) and outrebounded Golden
State 21-11 in the first half to take a 62-44 lead at the break.
Johnson and Zarko Cabarkapa sank 3-pointers in a 21-6 run that
put Phoenix up 56-36 on Marion's 20-footer from the baseline with
2:59 left in the half.
The Warriors scored the first five points of the second half to
cut it to 62-49. The Suns responded with a 15-4 surge -- with two
3-pointers by Marion and one by Leandro Barbosa -- to take their
biggest lead, 77-53, after Johnson's 17-footer with 6:39 left in
the third quarter.
Stoudemire has 71 points in his last three games. ... The
Warriors' Brian Cardinal didn't play because of the flu. ... The
Suns have won two in a row for just the fourth time this season.
... Johnson had seven assists for the second night in a row.