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Phoenix has some history on its side

Nine teams have come back from 0-2 deficits to win NBA playoff series, including Phoenix this year in the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers.

But only two of the 0-2 comebacks have come in the NBA Finals _ when Boston beat the Lakers 4-3 in 1969 and when Portland defeated Philadelphia 4-2 in 1977. In both cases, the first two games were lost by the road team.

Shut down

Suns point guard Kevin Johnson has had a woeful series. He's shooting 28.6 percent from the field, with nine turnovers and eight assists.

Johnson and the Suns like to run the pick-and-roll. But Bulls forwards Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen are quick enough to help B.J. Armstrong double-team Johnson, then recover before he can find an open man.

Bulls guard Michael Jordan said his team has "done a good job taking some of the passing lanes away from K.J. It's surprising to see that we've been able to keep him under wraps."

Johnson knows he has to play much better: "I know you can't hide. It's obvious I have to play much better for our team to be effective, and knowing that, I'm just glad I'm healthy and I have the opportunity."

The bottom line

The big men who battle in the middle usually draw significant attention, but that is not the case in this series, in which the rival centers are Bill Cartwright of Chicago and Mark West of Phoenix.

West: "Between myself and Bill, we really don't care because we're here and no one else is. That's the bottom line. We have a lot of great centers in this league _ Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal and Patrick Ewing _ but they're at home watching us play."

Point, counterpoint

Jordan and Charles Barkley each scored 42 points in Friday's Game

2. It was only the second time in Finals history that two players had scored 40 points. In 1969, Jerry West scored 41 points and John Havlicek scored 43 in Game

2 of the Celtics-Lakers series, a game won 118-112 by Los Angeles.

Barkley's last field goal came with just under 11 minutes left. Jordan: "He tried to carry his team as much as he could the first three quarters, but it seemed like he got tired in the fourth because he was doing all the offense, all the scoring."

Suns coach Paul Westphal: "I was in awe of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. They both played great games, and Charles gave every ounce of effort he had."

Life and death

Suns guard Danny Ainge: "Realistically, I'm not going to make any analogies of how close we are to death. Obviously, we're in bad shape."

The last word

Barkley: "How big a hole are we in? Well, we're in the right state for big holes. We'd fit right into the Grand Canyon."

_ TIMES WIRES

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