Channing Frye shines on defense while shot is off

Channing Frye has provided more of a defensive presence while he waits for his shot to drop. (AP Photo/George Frey)

Channing Frye has provided more of a defensive presence while he waits for his shot to drop. (AP Photo/George Frey)

PHOENIX — Channing Frye missed all six of his shots, three of which came with the game on the line, picked up five fouls and didn’t record an assist in 32 minutes of action.

Yet head coach Alvin Gentry stepped to the podium and proclaimed this Frye’s best game in a Suns uniform.

“I don’t think he made a shot, I don’t even know, but I just know he had his best game since he’s been here,” Gentry said. “He was absolutely terrific defensively, and if we can get that kind of effort from him then he’s going to make shots, I’m convinced of that, and if he can play that way defensively I think we’ll be fine.”

Frye kept Robin Lopez on the bench during crunch time by collecting a team-high 11 boards (eight defensive) and playing smothering defense on Zach Randolph as well as solid help ‘D.’

During the fourth quarter and overtime that Frye played entirely and Randolph played all but a few minutes of, Frye collected seven boards and Randolph — who corralled seven boards in the first quarter alone — went for a mere four points and one board.

Yes, seriously, I’m talking about Channing Frye along with defense and rebounding.

“Sometimes when your shot’s not falling you can’t be one-dimensional,” said Frye, who called this the best one-point personal performance of his career. “You need to do other stuff, so that was just what was working tonight. I felt like my teammates were helping me out a lot. For me it’s a part of my game I’m trying to develop, and hopefully I make a shot one of these days. It’s going to happen, I’m not going to worry about it.”

When you look at Frye’s 4.6 ppg on 25 percent shooting from the floor and 21.1 percent shooting from three, his five-year, $30 million deal might make you queasy. Frye might never duplicate his ridiculous shooting season from 2009-10, but he will eventually make shots, and if he becomes an agile 6-foot-11 defender who also grabs a few boards the contract might yet be worth it.

Lopez still out of sync

Meanwhile, Robin Lopez’s struggles continued against the Grizzlies in a season that has seen him play just one standout game (against the Lakers of all teams) in Phoenix’s first five.

Lopez finished with no points and four boards in 13 minutes of action against Memphis in a game that saw him limited by three fouls in 6:29 of the first half. Lopez exited for good midway through the third quarter because Frye played so well (defensively) down the stretch.

Before the game, Gentry cautioned that it’s just going to take time with the Suns’ prized young center. Lopez missed almost two months with a back injury, played six games of conference finals action and now has played just five regular season games this season.

“You have to understand he still hasn’t been in competitive basketball that much,” Gentry said of the aforementioned stretch. “It takes a little bit of time for him to get his timing back with the back issue. I think there’s nothing there, but psychologically I think he’s still trying to find himself there. I’m not trying to make excuses. The reality of it all is he hadn’t played in a ton of games.”

As Schmitz has written, Lopez was very effective in pick-and-roll situations last season, averaging 1.3 points per possession and hitting 67.6 percent of his shots out of the play. Lopez’s timing with Nash hasn’t been perfect thus far, with Hakim Warrick emerging as the superior roll man, but the Suns need Lopez to become more of a presence as a roll man as he becomes more acclimated to playing without the player Gentry described as the best roll man in the league.

Lopez “was pretty good at it when he was healthy and playing, and I think he’ll be OK with it now,” Gentry said. “Nobody’s going to ever be Amare. You can tell me anybody you want to put on our team, name anybody you want to put on there he won’t be as good as him rolling and finishing. I think Hakim’s done a great job with it, Robin’s going to do a good job with it, and we’ll keep getting better at it.”

A friendly wager

The terms of the bet may not be fit for public consumption, but Frye and Josh Childress confirmed to KTAR’s Adam Green that there was a little something riding on tonight’s Stanford-Arizona football game that was won by the Cardinal. So if you catch any JMZ footage of Frye wearing a wacky outfit to the arena this week, we will know why.

Nash: ‘Turnovers are necessary’

Only John Wall has turned the basketball over more often than Steve Nash this season, with Two Time averaging 5.6 miscues per contest (kind of funny that Amare ranks third in this department).

After a game in which the Suns coughed it up 28 times, Nash said he feels the aggressive turnovers can lead to cohesion down the road for a group of players still kind of feeling each other out.

“In some ways it’s almost like the turnovers are necessary to try to get that feel between one another and that understanding,” said Nash, who admitted he doesn’t quite have his legs yet. “We can’t go out there and be real conservative. It’s almost like we’re learning on the fly. There’s going to be some turnovers, we’ve got to try to win games in different ways.”

In the early going as Nash gets used to his new teammates, his assists are considerably down (7.2 per game) and he’s averaging about five more shots per game than his career average. Nash is also averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game while shooting just 44.9 percent, but that is not by design.

“I don’t feel like I have to score more,” he said. “I just feel like I get caught in situations because we’re not quite cohesive and we’re not making them pay with passes, so we get caught more I think, ‘I better get a shot off here.’ I don’t go into the game thinking I have to score more points. Just because we’re not cohesive I get caught a lot of times where, ‘We don’t have a lot of options, I better shoot.'”

Hedo the spot-up shooter

Although he still didn’t create much with just one assist and he had a very Channing Frye type of box score with all but one of his attempts coming from behind the arc, give Hedo Turkoglu credit for spacing the floor and knocking down 5-of-10 long balls against the Grizzlies.

I still would like to see him used more as a creator, but through five games Turkoglu is shooting 44.0 percent from deep and at least has the looks of a floor spacer even if that skill could be acquired for less than $11 million.

“When you have a good game it always makes you feel better, but still I shouldn’t be really satisfied with this because I know I can do more,” Turkoglu said. “But it was a good start for me to have this kind of game to help my confidence get there, so hopefully I will carry on from this and try to just have better games.”

Talking trash

Trash talk has been the issue of the week in the NBA after Kevin Garnett allegedly called Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient, which we know because Charlie V tweeted about the incident. Celtics exec Danny Ainge vehemently defended KG and took issue with the medium (Twitter) through which Villanueva brought these claims to light.

Gentry provided his take before Friday’s game against Memphis.

“It probably happened, but I don’t think it’s something that needs to be tweeted or anything,” he said. “I think that’s something you take care of on the court. I think there’s been a lot worse things said, not that I’m taking lightly the whole cancer thing at all. I just think it’s kind of an unwritten rule of whatever happens on the court stays on the court. It’s just part of the game I think.”

Tags: Alvin Gentry Channing Frye Hedo Turkoglu Robin Lopez Steve Nash

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