Phoenix Suns 110, Indiana Pacers 108 — Frye dagger

Posted by on February 27th, 4:49 pm

Channing Frye's game-winning shot in overtime set off a Suns celebration. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Channing Frye's game-winning shot in overtime set off a Suns celebration. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

In today’s NBA world a last-second shot often calls for an isolation for that team’s best player, a lower-percentage play than actually running an offense and getting off the kind of shot a team usually looks for.

I’m always surprised that a team will settle for a bad fadeaway that would not be tolerated in the middle of the second quarter during the most crucial moments of the games, and that’s why teams often score less efficiently in crunch time than during the rest of the game.

But on Sunday afternoon when the Suns needed one shot to knock off the Pacers instead of calling an iso for a red-hot Grant Hill or something of that ilk, they ran a play for Channing Frye, and the Arizona product splashed home a jumper as the clock expired to set off a Phoenix celebration as the Suns raced off the court with a 110-108 overtime victory.

The Suns had possession with just under 24 seconds left and after Steve Nash took the clock down to about five seconds, he dished it off to Hill, who was instructed to either find an open Frye or call timeout if it was well-defended. Frye could not shake Josh McRoberts around double screens from Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat so he called the timeout with 3.5 left so the Suns could set things up again.

Alvin Gentry chose to go to Frye once again. This time Dudley set a screen on McRoberts but his man Brandon Rush switched out onto Frye. The Suns big man is often chided for not shooting well when he doesn’t catch the ball in rhythm, but this time he pump faked and lofted a perfect swish to end the game.

“There was enough room to get it off and it went in,” Frye told reporters. “I was tired. I was like, ‘You know God if you can just let me make this shot,’ I’ve never asked for anything like that before and what do you know, he gives me a game winner.”

Added Hill, “He’s a guy that once he sees the ball go in the basket he can get rolling. He got the ball and had to make a great play, a pump fake with the guy running at him, knocked it in.”

My favorite part about this sequence is that it was an actual play (and that it didn’t lead to a shot clock violation as a potential game-winning situation in regulation did when the Suns held the ball too long before initiating the offense). They ran actual offense to get a hot player a look (Frye had knocked down a pair of shots earlier in overtime), and they used all of the 23 seconds left in the game to make sure this was a walk-off job.

Then I really loved what happened next. The entire team mobbed Frye, starting with Nash and Dudley (they were closest to him) and then Mickael Pietrus mobbing and hugging him before putting an arm around Frye as they walked off the court. Sure, every team will be excited to celebrate a game-winner, but you could see that camaraderie starting to come together after the kind of win that breeds chemistry.

“We’re in a good place,” Hill said. “We’re starting to get a real sense of chemistry on and off the court. We’re really as a unit starting to be together as one. We didn’t quit, we kind of grinded it out, we’re having fun and learning each other.”

The Suns once again jumped out to an early lead in this one thanks to a season-best game from Grant Hill. The small forward scored 20 points in the first half alone for the first time since 2005 and finished with 34 on 14-for-26 shooting to go with nine boards and four assists.

Hill said he has been focusing on his defense more than anything lately but after a talk with his dad he decided he wanted to come out more aggressive offensively in this one. With 14 first-quarter points he did exactly that, providing the kind of scoring punch he used to exhibit all the time during his prime. He also hit the biggest shot of the game before Frye’s dagger, drilling a game-tying three in the corner with 44 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

The Suns controlled this game for the better part of three quarters, taking a 15-point lead with three minutes left in the third before the Pacers came roaring back. They finished the period with five unanswered and then the Suns’ reserves failed to hold a lead once again.

The Pacers reeled off a 9-2 run early in the period and when A.J. Price hit a three to cut the lead to three with eight minutes left Gentry brought back Nash, Hill and Frye a bit early with the bench unable to be trusted once again.

That’s the area of the ballgame the Suns acquired Aaron Brooks for after Goran Dragic led the bench to so many losing quarters. Brooks missed a shot and committed a turnover during the fourth quarter and overall finished his lackluster Suns debut with three points, a rebound and an assist on 1-for-2 shooting in 10 minutes off the bench.

That means Nash played 43 minutes as the game eventually went to overtime, as Brooks played just the six minutes Nash sat in the first half before being ineffective to cause Nash to come back early in the fourth.

Brooks wasn’t the gunner he has been his whole career, perhaps because he was just trying to fit in with his new teammates. He moved the ball around capably and had a couple assists blown when teammates missed shots, but he failed to prevent the Suns early fourth-quarter malaise that has plagued the bench so much this season and he needs more minutes to make the kind of impact the Suns traded for him to make.

But with Hill turning back the clock, Gortat going for 17 and 11 (giving him the single season double-double record for a Suns reserve in a matter of months), and Frye knocking down the dagger the Suns still won their third in a row to move three games over .500 for the first time all season.

And 1

The Suns have won three in a row on three separate occasions in the last month after winning five in a row just before that.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Aaron Brooks · Channing Frye · Grant Hill · Indiana Pacers · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jed // Feb 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    This is one of the few games I didn’t get a chance to watch, but I caught the end on League Pass and it was great to see the Suns win it at the buzzer for a change; that doesn’t seem to happen for us very often.

    Great game by Hill.

    I really miss Dragic, but…

    Three games over .500 is exciting all things considered.

  • 2 shawn // Feb 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    And as usual Carter was useless but other than that great game

  • 3 kennyb1978 // Feb 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    @shawn
    I don’t think he was useless, he and Nash had off-shooting days. He was a +10 on the court today. It was a great game and a good team win on the road.

  • 4 Daniel // Feb 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Vince gave good hustle out there in this one (and has been doing so for the last several games) but he’s been pretty poor for us this year especially in terms of effort and shot selection. I understand the mentality that would defend a player in a suns uniform but this generosity is bordering on nepotism

  • 5 PJ // Feb 28, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Vince was 3-14. You say he’s +10 but thats simply because he was on the court for grant hills explosion in the first quarter and some of our decent 3rd quarter play then he sat. He takes bad shots and plays mediocre defense. I lost count of how many times brandon rush got free for backdoor slams or uncontested threes due to a missed assignment. The dude only plays when hes getting boo’d by his old fans or has a vendetta.

    The suns will pay him 3 million next year to play somewhere else.

  • 6 Phil // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Its a shame the Suns couldn’t get it done in regulation as the extra period nullifies any advantage of the early start going into tonight’s back to back.

    I think the Nets game is key to the overall success of this road trip – win and the Suns are likely to go 4-2 or 5-1, lose and they have the Celtics next and could easily be back to only one game over .500

  • 7 Al // Feb 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    This win almost wasn’t all because of A.J Price. I thought that Phoenix was going to lose for a third time because of a reserve point guard that went off for a season high game.

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