By R.L. Bynum
With Chris Paul out of Phoenix’s lineup because of health and safety protocols, the Suns needed a lift from multiple players in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
One of those players was Cameron Johnson, who played aggressively.
The former Tar Heel scored 12 points on five field goals, both playoff-highs, and pulled down four rebounds as Phoenix held off an L.A. rally to win the series opener at home 120–114. Johnson scored 10 of his points and notched both of his 3-pointers in the first half.
It was the Suns’ seventh win in the last eight games, with yet another big game from Devin Booker. Booker collected 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Johnson, who was 5 of 8 from the floor and made 2 of 5 3-point attempts, had a big rebound and dunk with 8:08 remaining to shove the Suns lead back to 10 points.
Johnson missed the last six games of the regular season recovering from a sprained right wrist but has played in all 11 Phoenix playoff games.
His 24 minutes, 27 seconds on Sunday was surpassed only by the 26 minutes, 33 seconds he played in game two of the first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers when he scored 10 points.
Phoenix’s best lineup Sunday was with Johnson, Booker, Cameron Payne, Torrey Craig and Dario Saric on the court with the Suns +7 in the nearly six minutes using that group.