Preview: Phoenix Suns (34-33) at Los Angeles Clippers (27-43)

Phoenix Suns 108, Los Angeles Clippers 99

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Just 15 games remain between the Suns and either an extra long offseason or an improbable playoff run.

That’s 15 games to make or break the entire season.

Friday started Phoenix off on the right foot.

A couple days after Steve Nash made his return, Channing Frye came back from a separated shoulder to help lift the Suns to a relatively easy 108-97 victory over Golden State.

“Our team just works better with Steve and Channing,” Marcin Gortat said. “If everybody is healthy then we can make the playoffs.”

Yes, health is crucial, but so is putting teams away when the Suns have a chance.

Against the Warriors, Phoenix let a 17-point second half lead shrink to just eight before the team finally regained its footing.

“When we miss a couple of shots we have to be able to guard on the other end,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “We can’t give up the 10-0 runs.”

Although he scored 17 points, Frye missed a lot of open looks he’s used to making.

On the night, he went 5-for-12 from the field.

“It’s been a while since I missed that many open shots,” Frye said. “I’m just trying to get my legs into it. My legs were a little shaky but things were good, I just rushed a couple shots.”

And Frye will fix those little mistakes, it just might take a game or two.

“Some of the shots he missed, I’m not worried about,” Gentry said. “He’ll make those.”

Sunday is the next chance for the team to take a step closer to the playoffs.

The Suns will visit a Clippers team coming off an eight-point victory Saturday over the hapless Cavaliers.

Phoenix will be without the services of backup point guard Aaron Brooks, suspended by the NBA for his technical foul late in Friday’s game. 

Phoenix and Los Angeles have split the other two meetings so far this season with each winning on its home floor.

With all their pieces back together, the Suns should get back to a sense of normalcy Sunday. Roles for players should stabilize and get back to the way they were before Frye went down.

Gortat played incredibly well with Frye opening up space for him down low. The Polish Hammer dropped 18 points, including 10 in the third quarter.

Robin Lopez only got eight minutes of court time despite starting.

Gortat got the nod at the beginning of the second half and in the fourth quarter with the rest of the first unit.

Memphis won on Saturday, extending its lead over Phoenix to two and a half games for the final playoff spot in the West.

The Suns will have to pass the Grizzlies, who have clinched the season series, to make it into the eighth spot.

Tags: Channing Frye

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