PHOENIX, MAY 27 -- Phoenix Suns' point guard Kevin Johnson bought courtside seats for talk show host Arsenio Hall for Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals here today. Then, as the comedian often says, Johnson "got busy."
In a series in which the homecourt seems to supply pace, Johnson and the Suns ran themselves even with Portland. Johnson scored 28 points and had 17 assists, keying a run-first offense that helped Phoenix to a 119-107 victory before a sellout 14,487 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Suns' second home-court victory sends the best-of-seven series back to Portland, Ore., tied at two games each for Game 5 Tuesday night. The Suns have lost 19 straight games in Portland, dating from 1984. Phoenix blew a 22-point lead there in Game 2.
"Our running game is excellent, especially if we can get it off our defense," said Suns Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, who watched his bench outscore Portland's reserves, 31-10.
With the fast pace for the second straight game, the Suns seemed to gain an advantage from a matchup that places Portland's 6-foot-8 power forward, Buck Williams, on the Suns' 6-10 Tom Chambers, who is excellent on the fast break.
While the matchup favors Williams, an all-NBA defensive team player, in a half-court game, Chambers has been able to beat Williams down the floor in Games 3 and 4.
Chambers had 27 points today, including five fast-break baskets on assists from Johnson. He had 24 on 11-of-13 shooting in the Suns' 123-89 victory in Game 3.
"I'm getting a good start on Buck. It's tough for him to pick me up. Very tough," said Chambers, who made 10 of 17 shots to maintain his series and season averages of 27 points a game.
"We have to start keeping them out of the open court," Portland forward Jerome Kersey said. "Somebody has to get back, or rotate back up top. And Kevin is so quick getting down there."
The Suns trailed, 41-36, in the second period, but went on a 20-9 run keyed by Johnson and Chambers. Phoenix took a 56-50 halftime lead, its largest to that point, thanks to a three-point goal by Jeff Hornacek with two seconds left.
Johnson had six points and five assists in that stretch, and Chambers had six points -- on a dunk, a layup and a short jump shot, all following passes from Johnson.
The teams played evenly again until the Suns went on an 18-6 run that concluded three minutes into the fourth quarter with Phoenix leading, 93-76. Portland never closed within 10 again. Hornacek's three-point goal with 7:25 to play capped an 11-3 spurt for a 100-81 lead, the Suns' largest of the game.
The Trail Blazers lost some of their effectiveness earlier because of foul trouble. Kersey (29 points) got his fourth foul with 4:40 left in the third quarter and guard Clyde Drexler (15 points) got his fifth foul 23 seconds later. Both were removed, not to return until the fourth quarter.
"That third quarter really hurt them. We played our tempo for 48 minutes," said Johnson, who made 13 of 19 field-goal attempts.
"The key things to beating Portland are to outrebound them, get our running game going and get some easy buckets," said 6-5 Dan Majerle, a key player off the bench today.
Majerle had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Suns outrebounded the Trail Blazers, 48-36, their largest margin in the nine games the teams have played this season.
Helped by transition baskets, the Suns made 53 percent of their shots. They made 61 percent in Game 3.
Kersey scored his game-high 29 on 14-of-20 shooting, but made nine of his baskets on jump shots from the perimeter, where the Suns would rather he play.
"They can make that shot from the outside, but they can be pretty inconsistent. We like them to shoot that shot," said Chambers, who has been covering the 6-7 Kersey.
Permitting Kersey outside jumpers also decreases his chances of getting offensive rebounds, perhaps the Suns' greatest fear. Kersey had no offensive rebounds after getting 13 in the first three games of the series.
"At least he can't get to the glass," Fitzsimmons said.
"They want me off the boards," Kersey said.
Notes: Portland guard Drazen Petrovic played only three minutes because of a sprained right wrist. . . . Fitzsimmons, on the greatest change he has made in his 17 seasons as an NBA coach: "Somewhere between Atlanta, Buffalo, Kansas City, San Antonio and Phoenix, I lost my ego. It got lost with my luggage somewhere. It took a long time. It was big."