Sonics' E.J. Blows Whistle On Officials
PHOENIX - The most obviously bitter person in the Sonic locker room yesterday was 11-year veteran Eddie Johnson.
"We got here the same way they got here," Johnson said, lashing out at the free-throw disparity between his team and Phoenix. The Suns shot 64 free throws to the Sonics' 36 in Phoenix's 123-110 victory.
"We let them do what they wanted to do. I think the referees dictated some of that by calling fouls," Johnson said.
While the Suns were racking up 26 free throws in the third quarter, hitting their first 20, Johnson provided the Sonics' only counter with 18 of his Sonic-high 34 points. He started by tossing an inbound pass off the backside of Phoenix's Dan Majerle, collecting the ball himself and draining an 18-footer.
"What I did today," said Johnson, "I could've done a long time ago."
Why didn't he?
Until yesterday, Johnson said, he took what he got.
"I felt I had to step up," he said. "All series long, I hadn't done that and it was time. Ricky (Pierce) didn't have it early, so someone had to get the offense going."
Before abruptly ending his postgame interview, Johnson said he had been unjustly criticized for his playoff performance. He was shooting 31.7 percent for the series and 36.3 percent for the playoffs before yesterday.
Johnson also said the criticism was unfair because he was hurt during the Houston series and that development went unreported. Fact is, however, the injury was reported but not thoroughly discussed because Johnson constantly refused even to confirm that he was injured. He had claimed that he didn't want to acknowledge or identify the injury out of fear that opposing defenders would pick on it.
"This is difficult to take," he said of yesterday's playoff-ending loss. "It's very disappointing and I don't see much good in it."
FOR THE RECORD(S) -- Phoenix's Dan Majerle set NBA records for a seven-game playoff series by making 20 three-pointers (beating Terry Porter's 16 for Portland against San Antonio in 1990), and attempting 42 (topping Porter's 35 in the same series). The Suns set team records for makes (36) and attempts (96), topping Portland's 26 and Chicago's 81 (against Detroit in 1990).
Phoenix's 57 made free throws equaled Boston's playoff record output, in a four-overtime game against Syracuse in 1953.
SURGERY FOR CEBALLOS -- Phoenix forward Cedric Ceballos had surgery yesterday to repair a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal bone of his left foot. Ceballos suffered the injury on April 8 in Sacramento and reinjured the foot during the third quarter of Game 6 Thursday night. He is expected to be on crutches for four to six weeks.
TRAVELING HECKLER -- Pulling out all the stops yesterday, the Phoenix Suns sat Robin Ficker, the Washington Bullets' heckling fan, in back of the Sonic bench. He kept up a constant barrage of insults, even reading at times from Barkley's biography, quoting passages about various Seattle players.
QUICK JUMP -- Seattle's Nate McMillan said the Suns' opening 12-2 run was the difference in the game.
"They're basically frontrunners," McMillan said. "Whenever they have the lead, especially when it's about 10 points, they play with a lot more confidence. . . . "But whenever it's a close game, you can see them tend to tense up and get a little tight."
WITHER BARROS? -- At times this season, Sonic guard Dana Barros has expressed his frustration with his lack of playing time. There has been speculation that at the end of the season, he will ask to be traded.
"I don't want to be traded," he said. "I love Seattle. I think the fans are great. The team is great. But there's more to it than that. Whatever happens, happens. But I would like things to be a little different."
UGLY, TOO -- "It's frustrating to me because this was an ugly basketball game," Sonic Coach George Karl said. "It should have been a better basketball game. The seventh game of this series deserved a better game. I don't think it got it. We couldn't get any flow to the game because they (Suns) were always shooting free throws."
SWEET NOTHINGS -- After the game, Charles Barkley and Karl hugged and talked into each other's ear.
"I just told Charles I think they can beat the Bulls," Karl said. "I'm one of the few who think they can, but if they score 100 points, I think they'll beat Chicago."
Later, Barkley gave his game uniform to Karl's son, Coby.
TEE FOR TWO -- Charles Barkley said he would play Michael Jordan in a golf game probably on Thursday.
"Yeah, we'll bet on the golf," Barkley told a reporter.
LAST LAUGH -- Barkley chastised the media after the game for picking on the Suns.
"There are a lot of idiots in the world and most of them are journalists," Barkley said. "We're not tall enough, we're not aggressive enough. We can't beat teams from the East. We don't listen to that crap. No matter what happens in the Finals, we got the last laugh."
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