Channing Frye’s recent scoring streak before his injury must have rubbed off on his replacement, Hakim Warrick.
Just one game after the Suns’ hottest player went down with a dislocated right shoulder, Warrick stepped in and went off on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 32 points in a 113-110 Phoenix victory over Houston.
Not a bad start I’d say.
Thursday the Suns will get another chance to beat a team fighting for a playoff spot, the Nuggets.
The last time Phoenix met Denver, things didn’t go very well, the Nuggets dismantled the Suns 132-98.
The strangest part of that embarrassing loss was that Phoenix led by 12 after the first quarter.
Denver proceed to outscore the Suns by 21 in both the second and third quarters before cruising in the fourth.
Arron Afflalo busted out for 31 points while the recently traded Carmelo Anthony dropped 28.
Come Thursday night though, the Suns won’t have to worry about Anthony or Chauncey Billups for that matter.
The Nuggets haven’t won in Phoenix since 2004, a streak of 12 consecutive victories for the Suns.
Even though the game won’t feature either Anthony or Frye, fireworks should still be expected in US Airways Center.
On Nov. 28, these two teams combined for 271 points.
The Nuggets hold the edge in the season series 2-1, but against the new-look Denver team, Phoenix must see the game as an opportunity to inch closer to the playoffs. Any win against a team currently holding a better record than the Suns is worth double.
The Nuggets have played well since the Anthony trade, winning five of seven, but their schedule gets a lot tougher down the remaining month and a half of the regular season.
Without the services of Frye for at least another two weeks, Phoenix is in for a tough road ahead as well.
The team was finally clicking when he went down. If the Suns can weather the storm they should get Frye back in time for a final playoff push, but they will need Warrick to continue to play like he did Tuesday night.
Of course, 32 points from Vince Carter doesn’t hurt either.
Warrick played a team-high 40 minutes with Grant Hill and Carter playing 39 each.
The Suns are just one game out of the eighth spot in the West. The Nuggets are fifth, but are only three games ahead of Phoenix.
There’s not a lot of wiggle room left for the handful of teams competing for the final playoff spots.
TNT dropped Thursday night’s game in favor of a more glamorous Knicks and Mavericks matchup.
Instead, Phoenix will play on Fox Sports Arizona Plus.
If you have Cox that channel is 108 or 608 in high definition.
If you have Direct TV, it’s 693. Dish is 448.