PHOENIX – Suns forward Channing Frye didn’t have a summer to work on his game. He was cleared to play after last year’s heart condition scare just before the season began. Yet, he’s taking a few more risks now, trying new things on the fly and trying to do more than acting as a one-dimensional three-point gunner.
“What do I got to lose?” Frye said Sunday after scoring 30 points and going 12-for-16 from the floor in the Suns’ 117-103 win over the Nuggets. “They’re running at me like crazy. It’s not like I’m crossing anybody over, anything too fancy. For me it’s really just progressing, getting better and making sure when I dribble I keep my head up and look for open guys.
“This is kind of like ‘screw it’ type stuff.”
Frye, who was three points off his career high and likely would have challenged it had the Suns bench not closed the fourth quarter, admitted he’s watched a lot of film in the last few days to work out of a shooting slump. It wasn’t all on him since Jeff Hornacek’s team had been bothered by stale ball movement that was much better against Denver – the Suns had 23 assists to 10 turnovers in the win. Still, Frye wanted to implement one- and two-dribble moves once teams run him off the foul line.
He’s even gotten in tune with the dunk. When Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson found himself switched onto Frye early in the third quarter on Sunday, Frye took several dribbles from the top of the key and ended up getting all the way to the hoop for a slam. It was telling of Denver’s bad help defense, but also that Frye taking those risks.
“Today, I kind of did my homework on what they wanted to do and I should do that for every game,” Frye said. “Really just kind of apply what I’m working on. I work on a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and kind of be a jack of all trades like a cornucopia of goodness.
“When I am doing pretty good and trying to stay out of foul trouble, just trying to get Goran open makes my job a little bit easier,” Frye added, as Dragic interjected a “Thank you, Channing,” from across the room.
Len finally solidifies his role
“Last game he played a couple minutes and was upset about it,” Morris said. “You just got to keep talking to him. He’s young and he’s ready to play now.”
Len scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds while playing with a bench unit including Ish Smith, Leandro Barbosa and the Morris twins. Four of the Len boards were offensive, and the box score doesn’t show the others he batted out to his teammates.
The rookie made it clear that he’s motivated by simply earning playing time.
“When you’re winning, you feel like you’re part of the team rather than when you sit on the sideline and just watch the game,” Len said.
While Frye was working on adding to his game, the Suns may have gotten the best performance out of rookie Len by making him simplify his own. The coaches and his teammates tell him to “try to do easy things,” Len said.
“Alex, once he gets things going, can play the four,” Frye said. “I think you (now) kind of see simple Alex. We just ask him to rebound, roll to the front of the rim, block some shots, play defense. “
It could be a huge gain for a bench unit that on Sunday looked like it could have finally solidified a full rotation.