Phoenix Suns 135, Minnesota Timberwolves 127 -- Frye’s career night

PHOENIX — Channing Frye had been suffering through an April to forget heading into Monday’s matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Frye averaged 8.5 points on 35.8 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent three-point shooting during the first six games this month, so of course it makes perfect sense that Frye would go berserk with a career-high 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field and a franchise-record-tying nine three-pointers in 14 attempts in Phoenix’s 135-127 overtime win over the Wolves.

Just last week Frye missed all four of his shots (all threes) against these same Timberwolves, yet tonight Channing found his groove and splashed shots throughout the game.

“I’m like the stock market,” Frye said. “I may play bad for a week, but it’s not going to last like that.”

Frye busting out against Minnesota shouldn’t come as a total surprise as he drilled seven treys against the Wolves on Dec. 15 and hit four, five and six against Minnesota at different points last season. You would think by now the Wolves would understand allowing Frye to get into a rhythm is a very bad idea.

Frye tied the franchise record Quentin Richardson originally set on Dec. 29, 2004, in New Orleans and he became the first power forward to knock down that many long balls since Donyell Marshall hit 12 on March 13, 2005.

“Even though you are wide open it is still tough to make that many threes when it comes to an NBA game,” Jared Dudley said. “To have that many I don’t care if you’re wide open or not, it’s impressive. We needed all of them, especially tonight.”

Frye has now recorded all three of his 30-point games as a Sun since Feb. 15 (24 games) after previously producing just three in his first 411 career contests.

Since I’m working on a story on the Suns’ vaunted training staff (AKA The Warlocks) for the summer, I found it interesting that Frye credited them largely for helping him play so well in this one after the rough road swing.

Frye’s right butt cheek was shut off, according to the forward, which caused problems for his thigh and hamstring. But the training staff got that issue firing properly and Frye showed what he can do when in proper alignment.

“At this point in my career it’s pretty simple,” Frye said. “I’m either on balance or I’m off balance. If I’m on balance it’s going in, if I’m off it’s not. I think that’s why Steve is such a phenomenal shooter, because he’s always on balance.”

Frye led a Suns attack that shot 54.3 percent from the floor and 62.1 percent from long range (18-for-29) while enjoying one of their more efficient offensive performances of the year (125.0 per 100), but they gave it up at the other end as a Kevin Love-less Wolves squad hit 54.7 percent of their attempts. Minnesota shot 61.7 percent in the first half and largely got whatever they wanted during the first 24 minutes.

The Suns yielded 117.6 points per 100 possessions in this one yet sadly it was their best defensive output of the last three games, which speaks much more to how atrocious they were in New Orleans and Dallas than anything done well in this one.

“We weren’t very good defensively,” said head coach Alvin Gentry. “Obviously, we gave up 65 points in the first half and they shot 62 percent. We got beat off the dribble; we got beat on post ups; we got beat on flash cuts — so we didn’t guard very good at all the first half. I thought we did a much better job the second half.”

A meaningless game for both teams highlighted by sloppy defense all around and fits of offensive carelessness from Minnesota suddenly became very interesting when Martell Webster drilled a trey to put his team up one with 38 seconds left.

The Suns then got Frye a look for three but he suffered a rare miss, which bounced right back into Dudley’s hands, and he dished it to Nash for the kind of clutch three you wish Two Time would take more often.

After Nash put the Suns up two, Michael Beasley –- who played a fantastic offensive game with 26 points — broke Dudley’s ankles on his way to an And 1 bucket, but Beasley missed the ensuing foul shot.

That gave the Suns one last chance to win it in regulation but after Dudley had a layup blocked out of bounds, Hill’s five-foot bank shot just fell off the rim.

Frye hit his ninth triple during Phoenix’s franchise-record ninth overtime of the season to take a 126-124 lead the Suns would never give up, and Dudley sealed the deal with a three of his own to cap an 8-0 run that put Phoenix up seven.

While Frye was the star on this night, Dudley played the best supporting actor role with 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting to go with five threes in as many attempts. He added eight boards (four offensive), three assists, a whopping five steals and a plus 15 in 38 minutes during this super all-around effort that continues to cement him as a starter in the 2011-12 lineup.

Steve Nash likely clinched his assists crown with 16 helpers in this one, with Frye and Dudley often the beneficiaries, on a night Nash took just four shots and scored only three points before his late triple.

Even if Nash were to go without an assist on Wednesday, Rajon Rondo would need to dish out 18 dimes to overtake him, so Nash will likely earn his fifth assists title in seven years as a Sun against the Spurs.

Hill’s 21-point effort that includes eight assists and four boards ensures that he will become the seventh 38-year-old in NBA history to average at least 13.0 points per game. It’s not a bad list to join: Kareem, Jordan, Malone, Reggie, Parish and Stockton. Also, Hill’s 13 20-point games mark the most for a player his age since Miller in 2004-05.

This game also featured plenty of play from the youngsters on Phoenix’s bench, headlined by Garret Siler receiving 12:04 of non-garbage time. Siler scored two points and grabbed five boards while Robin Lopez got the dreaded DNP-CD. It sure says something when the Suns want to get a longer look at Siler than Lopez.

With Vince Carter out with an knee or a thigh injury (Gentry wasn’t quite sure which one, which gives you an indication of the severity of that ailment) we also saw some of Zabian Dowdell at the two guard (which wasn’t pretty, as he was 2-for-9), and Aaron Brooks didn’t impress much in his five-point, five-assist stint in 18 minutes.

The Suns gutted out their eighth straight victory over Minnesota and have now swept 10 season series in 2010-11, kind of amazing for a team that won’t even finish at .500.

Although a win is a win it’s not good that the Suns needed a career game from Frye and a stellar team shooting night from long range just to beat the worst team in the league without their best player in overtime, but hey, it sure beats what happened Sunday night in Dallas.

And 1

With the loss the Suns clinched the 13th pick in the draft unless they get lucky and wind up with one of the top three slots in the draft lottery. … Retiring play by play man Gary Bender was honored before the fourth quarter with an “18” Suns jersey with his name on the back commemorating the number of years of service he has provided to the franchise. Bender said he was “a little overwhelmed” and that “this is one of the highlights of my entire life.”

Tags: Channing Frye Jared Dudley

  • Steve


    Didn’t you say it was your knee earlier?

    That’s what I meant…. MY KNEE!!!!

    I got offered some tix to this game at about 6:50 (I was about an hour away at the time). I declined them since I wouldn’t be able to make it till the second quarter, but I wish I would have taken them. Exciting game, even if it was just the T-Wolves.

  • Ryan

    This kinda sums up the season for the Suns. Needing overtime to be the Wolves at home. On to next season!!

  • Sean

    I was at the game last night. Not a good defensive effort, although the offense looked good. Beasley played *really* well, hit some tough shots, and showed why he was the #2 pick in the draft a few years ago.

    Interesting that Lopez didn’t play. The Suns aren’t even trying to showcase him to other teams at this point. Siler is a big body who commands space. If he had more presence and agility, he’d be pretty darn good. As is, he missed at least one bunny down there, and was stripped 2 or 3 times after harnessing boards.

    Dudley is a keeper. That guy mixes scrappiness the Suns need, outside shooting, and enough talent to get by. He, Gortat, and Frye are the 3 untouchables on the roster, IMO.

    I agree with Michael Schwartz: I would like to see Nash shoot a bit more. But he was a maestro at spreading the wealth last night with 16 dimes. I’ll be sad to see him go, this summer or next. But I think we owe it to him and to the team’s future to look for a good trade.

  • Michael Schwartz

    I wonder if they are anti-showcasing Lopez, as in not playing him so people don’t get to see how much he’s regressed. I am surprised he got the DNP-CD in this one, although I know Gentry wanted to give Siler a chance before garbage time to see what he can do. Maybe the Suns have seen all they feel they need to know about Robin.

  • Mel.

    Very possible, Schwartzy. It not only indicates a clear favor towards Gortat as being the anchor for next year’s starting five (Though the two-headed C-monster was an amusing experiment, in its own right), but also pretty much situates Robin in terms of off-season moves.

    I do feel that they gave him a more-than-fair chance to step up and claim his spot despite Marcin hitting the roster like an H-bomb, and he responded by simply eroding to a D-League production over the months after the trade. That isn’t the kind of commitment that you want from a bench player, especially on a ten-man team like this one: if the eventual focus of next season is to make Gortat the face of this team–and hell, as much as I love Dudley, that’s the way it SHOULD play out–then he needs a hungry body to stall out his minutes, which Siler can provide (Despite his down-sides in mobility and potential development). Lopez becomes Earl Clarke II in that scenario, and it’s honestly the fairer of two choices to send him out in a mutually beneficial deal: some needy team gets a big guy, Fropez gets a chance at a role where he isn’t the “starter who lost his touch, and got benched faithlessly,” and the Suns potentially get something they need in return.

  • Freddy

    I hope Siler pans out for us, with a little more work I can see him coming off the bench for Gortat. Lets hope he works on improving his game. He has good work ethic and is constantly working to improve.

    Hopefully when we trade him we find out he has an injury or something that was preventing him from taking his game to the next level because I have seen chicks that play better than Lopez.

  • Freddy

    Oh yeah I would like to Officially Knickname Garrett Siler “Slim”

    I hope that catches on. :)

  • shawn

    Great game last night pure entertainment and I love when Eddie Johnson does the game pure comedy

  • Steve

    EJ is great. So extremely biased, so it’s fun to give him a listen. McCoy is the same way, and I love it.

    As far as Siler is concerned, I really think we’d be reaching a lot if we were considering him to be a contributor next year… or probably even ever. I like the guy. I really do. His work ethic has shown, and he really has come a long way since the beginning of this season, both with his skill set and with his body. But if wants to break a rotation, he’s got a LONG way to go. I’m rooting for him, but I am not going to hold my breath. If nothing else, I think he’s an excellent guy to have on the roster to be a big, imposing big in practice to give guys like Gortat and Frye a workout. He’s a great asset for the team, and I like having him around whether or not he ends up contributing in games at some point.

  • Michael Schwartz

    I don’t think there’s any question there’s “something” wrong with Robin. He’s just not the same athlete. The guy has lost a number of inches on his vertical and doesn’t seem to be able to move laterally quite like he used to either. The obvious assumption would be that his back injury robbed him of some of that athleticism. The question then is whether this is something he can regain with a healthy summer of hard work or if he’s now damaged goods.

    We’re talking about a guy who Gentry tabbed as the second-most important player on the roster, and now it’s a legitimate discussion whether Garret Siler would be a better backup center of the future. I hate that the Suns might be selling incredibly low on Robin if they do make a deal as I can’t imagine him having a ton of trade value at this point, but I’m sure the Suns’ trainers have a pretty good read on the possibility of Robin regaining some of that explosiveness. I’d say that whatever’s happened to Robin is the biggest mystery of the season.

  • Phx suns fan In la

    @freddy the team named him “pitbull” according to gortat on twitter

  • Mel.

    Schwartzy, one has to surmise that it’s bad news, if you’re right… if the Warlocks can’t get that kind of injury straightened out, then I don’t know how RoLo’s ever going to get back into his previous form.

  • Mel.

    Ha! Also: I don’t know if you guys saw it, but John Barry broke ranks on a nearly-unanimous vote crowning Dwight Howard the Defensive Player of the Year, by using his own ballot to elect…

    … Grant Hill.

    Hardly a game-changer in the media mentality concerning Grant’s play, but a nice little statement nevertheless.

  • Steve

    Wow, Barry is usually hating on the Suns. Surprised to see him give a Sun some credit. I’m thinking this is probably about Grant, and in spite of the uniform he wears, Barry still respects him.

    Dwight Howard is awesome, but he’s a LeBron, in my opinion. He SHOULD be awesome. He has physical gifts that no one else on the court possesses. LeBron SHOULD be the best player in basketball by a long shot. He’s the most freakish athlete I’ve ever seen in my life besides maybe Carl Lewis. Howard SHOULD grab 13 rebounds and block a couple of shots every game. In fact, he SHOULD do more. Olajuwon grabbed that many boards and blocked twice as many shots in his sleep, and I don’t think he was gifted physically to the extent Howard is.

    My point is that Dwight Howard is a lazy whiner. I wouldn’t give my DPOY to him, just like I wouldn’t give my MVP to LeBron (and I wouldn’t have given it to him last year either, simply because you could tell he gave up on Cleveland late in the year). Guys who SHOULD dominate need to do something extra to prove they deserve accolades, in my opinion.

  • shawn

    @Steve cosign

  • Drew

    Since we’re already talking about our bigs for next year, does anyone (Schwartz) know how Gani Lawal is progressing? He was a rebounding machine, out-rebounding Derrick Favors at Georgia Tech. In my mind, he could be a nice surprise next year. Our own DeJuan Blair. Maybe this kind of report will wait until summer league. Oh wait, they cancelled the summer league. This will be a LONG summer with only baseball to watch…

  • Michael Schwartz

    I ran into Gani at Shootaround today and he said he’s about halfway done with his rehab. He expects to be up to full speed in June or July.

    Yeah, I think he could project as a solid bench player down the road. He certainly has the right mentality, unlike our boy Earl Clark, although I kind of think he needs at least another year of seasoning with his rookie year ruined by the injury.

    I heard they miiiiight have an abbreviated Summer League right when the lockout ends if it ends early, but all the TrueHoop Network guys who covered Summer League last year are incredibly bummed that it might be wiped out this year.

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