Hot shooting Johnson, leads streaking Suns over hustling Hornets

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In a game that was, at times, much closer than the 31-point margin, the once again healthy Cameron Johnson led the Phoenix Suns over a pesky Charlotte Hornets 128-97.

The Phoenix Suns have won four straight games since the return of Cam Johnson to the team from meniscus surgery. While the return of Chris Paul and improved play all-around have served to right the Suns’ ship, Johnson got the party started Tuesday evening at Footprint Center with some hot shooting that the team carried on the rest of the night.

The Phoenix Suns were hitting their three-pointers against the Hornets

While the injuries to stars like Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and LaMelo Ball were storylines heading into the game, the game’s actual story was the Suns’ shooting. Phoenix shot an outstanding 55% from behind the three-point line as a team, going 22 for 40.

Phoenix got out of the blocks early, with Johnson hitting four threes in the first five minutes of the game and scoring 14 of the first 16 Suns points, as Phoenix led 16-7. A lead that would balloon to 20-7 as other scorers got in on the act.

Johnson had done his job early and never lost his touch during the night, finishing  9 of 11 overall, including six of seven from three, for 24 points, to lead all scorers.

Johnson was playing well enough to have a lot more, but coming off his knee surgery, in a mostly blow-out game, Johnson’s minutes should have been limited. Likely, however, the reason Johnson never returned after coming out with six minutes to go in the third quarter was the elbow he took to his face, which caused his cheek to swell up.

Johnson and the Suns will have to hope the issue is nothing serious, as Cam just returned from an extended absence.

Fortunately, on Tuesday, the early lead the Suns built for a change – up 36-15 after one – left Phoenix in a position to cruise to victory.

Charlotte put up a fight, but threes ended the Hornets’ hope.

A robust second quarter and start to the third for Charlotte cut the Suns’ lead from over 30 to just eight at 58-50, less than two minutes into the third. However, back-to-back threes from Mikal Bridges (18 points) and Chris Paul (14 points and 11 assists) pushed the lead back to 14, a number it would not go back under.

As the third quarter turned into the fourth, bench stars Josh Okogie and Saben Lee led the charge to close the game. While Johnson led all scorers, his +/- was just 2, whereas OKogie and Lee combined for only 11 points, but each had a +/- of 25. Okogie and Lee did the dirty work for the substitutes, while Dario Saric and Jock Landale took the torch from Johnson, going a combined 6 of 11 on threes and adding 34 points.

In the end, it was the fourth straight win for a suddenly streaking Suns team starting to get healthy again and re-learning to win.

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