PHOENIX — Despite facing an 0-2 deficit, the Phoenix Suns haven’t been all that bad offensively against the Los Angeles Lakers through two games of the Western Conference Finals — with the exception of Channing Frye that is.
After watching the three-point specialist struggle through 1-of-13 shooting thus far, it’s hard to believe that he is the same player that drilled 172 treys during the regular season. The Lakers have done an excellent job chasing Frye from the three-point line and keeping him from becoming the X-factor that he has the potential to be.
He looks nothing like the player who showed off his confident stroke during the regular season, as he often appears to be thinking out on the basketball court rather than just playing. And that lack of confidence has certainly showed in his game.
After Friday’s practice Frye said, “I saw the film and there’s no confidence problems, there’s no mental problems, there’s no nothing. You just had two bad games.”
With a positive attitude looking forward to Sunday’s game, it’s easy to say that it isn’t mental. But when you’re so used to getting open look after open look and knocking it down with regularity, if that completely changes it has to affect your psyche. Frye did admit that he hasn’t been himself lately on the court, often worrying about the importance of each three he has hoisted rather than just shooting.
“I was trying to be something I wasn’t and that was being serious, you know, ‘Oh gosh, I’ve got to make this shot,’ instead of just letting it fly like I usually do,” Frye said.
He said that after watching the film, his shot looked good. But it was clear that he was hesitant to fire in Game 2, which resulted in 0-of-5 shooting and a season-low nine minutes. Even the shots that he did take he would show a brief pump fake before or wait an extra second prior to firing.
“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t feel right in my hands,” he said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t come clean in your hands and other times with their length I’m trying to read the defense and what they’re giving up and through that process it’s just something that I had to look and figure out.”
Frye has essentially hurt the Suns more than helped them through two games. The only value he really brings to the court is his shooting, and when that’s ineffective it’s hard to find a reason to put him on the court. But despite his recent struggles, head coach Alvin Gentry still has confidence in Frye’s shooting ability — as long as he believes in himself that is.
“If he has an open shot then he’s got to step in and shoot it,” Gentry said. “I could care less. If he shoots it and he thinks its going in than that’s all I want to have happen. Other than that, that’s the only adjustment that needs to be made.”
Sounds like a confidence issue to me. But if there is one place where Frye can regain that confidence it is in the friendly confines of US Airways Center, where he shot 47.3 percent from three during the regular season, as opposed to 40.2 percent on the road during the regular season.
The support of Planet Orange should only help the slumping shooter, but Frye was adamant that the added pressure of playing on a bigger stage in Los Angeles of all places had no impact on his game.
“Oh I don’t care about no bright lights man, you’re talking to the wrong person,” Frye said adamantly. “I don’t care about none of that. All that bright lights crap is nothing.”
Frye and the entire Suns team knows that he has been flat-out awful through two games. But the 6-foot-11 sharpshooter sounded confident after today’s practice and seemed like he knew exactly what he needed to do on the court to potentially change the complexion of the series for the Suns — relax.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself because I feel like I’m a big part of this team,” he said. “Instead of trying to win every game on every single shot, I just need to come out here and play.”