Jazz forward Thurl Bailey made his strongest showing ever in the voting for the NBA Sixth Man Award but finished second again. Phoenix forward Eddie Johnson received 33 votes from the 85-member nationwide media panel to 26 for Bailey and 17 for Detroit's Dennis Rodman.

Washington's John Williams received four votes and Seattle's Xavier McDaniel had two. Philadelphia's Ron Anderson, Milwaukee's Ricky Pierce and Cleveland's Hot Rod Williams received one each. The award was announced Monday; voting was completed before the playoffs started.A candidate for the award for four straight years, Bailey lost to Dallas' Roy Tarpley in a landslide last season. While Bailey is a better defensive player and rebounder, the offensive numbers support Johnson. The eight-year veteran averaged 21.5 points in 29 minutes a game, while shooting 49 percent for the 55-27 Suns. Bailey averaged 19.5 points in 34 minutes for the 51-31 Jazz.

"It's the greatest year of my life," Johnson told the Phoenix Gazette.

"Eddie certainly deserves this award, because he truly is a sixth man," Suns Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said. "He knows his role - to come in and shoot the ball."

Johnson started only seven of the 70 games he appeared in, missing 12 because of injuries. Bailey started three of 82 games.

Bailey, vacationing in North Carolina, was unavailable for comment. The Defensive Player of the Year will be named Thursday; the Jazz's Mark Eaton is a strong contender.

- Kurt Kragthorpe