Newsroom Notes: Suns, Frye Swat Away Jazz
Posted: March 12, 2012
At this point, there probably aren’t any nerves or the slightest sense of worry within a single member of the Phoenix Suns when the opposition takes the lead early on at US Airways Center.
Just like the previous five opponents who came onto the Suns’ home court and built a double-digit lead, the Jazz were up by as many as 13 during the first half of Wednesday night’s game.
Instead of panicking, Phoenix continues to find new players to step up when these deficits occur, and in this 120-111 Suns victory Channing Frye was there at almost every crucial juncture.
“We don’t like doing that, but we understand the game is a game of runs. We would like to avoid that situation early, and I think the biggest thing is we continue to believe in each other,” Frye said.
After not firing from the outside for most of the first half, Frye began his tear by hitting a 3-pointer halfway through the second quarter. He then followed that up with a monster block of Jazz forward Derrick Favors.
That spark continued to grow on both ends of the floor as Frye collected 26 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots and five 3-pointers to lead the team in all of those categories.
Frye was backed up by center Marcin Gortat’s 25 points, and Jared Dudley’s 21. Steve Nash orchestrated it all with 12 points and 16 assists.
On a night when the Suns did give up 111 points and Head Coach Alvin Gentry wished for better interior defense, it was Frye who did execute at the most opportune times. The forward believed that easy shots were created off his blocks, and via his team’s eight steals.
“Especially because we’re a fast-break team, we like to get out on our fast break whether it’s me, (Gortat), Robin (Lopez), anybody,” Frye said. “So if we’re getting blocks that means we’re getting out and running and causing problems.”
The first-half charge by the Suns started when the team was down 13 points with only six minutes to go until half time. After Frye’s 3-pointer and block the Jazz lead started to deteriorate – from 13 to six, and from six to a tied game at the break.
Frye and shooting guard Jared Dudley shared the spotlight at the end of the half, as the pair sunk back-to-back 3-pointers to even the contest at 53.
The Suns then built upon the momentum by winning yet another third quarter – the team’s ninth consecutive advantage in that frame – and took a seven-point lead into the fourth.
A fourth-quarter run by Utah evened the contest at 91 before Gentry called a timeout and reinserted Frye into the lineup.
After Frye untied the game with another 3, Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown exchanged buckets to hold off the Jazz.
“You look at it, and we had three guys with 20 or more and all the starters in double figures, you know, so that’s really good,” Gentry said. “We played really well offensively, I just think we are going to have to turn it up again defensively.”
The win also evened the Suns with the Jazz for 10th in the Western Conference, as both teams are now 20-22 on the season.
In a stretch that included games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jazz – teams the Suns were looking up at in the standings – Phoenix is relying on the team’s focus so as to not think too much about the bigger picture.
It doesn’t hurt that Phoenix also began its second back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season with this win over Utah. After the team lost all three during the last similar span, this victory precedes games at the Los Angeles Clippers and at home against the Detroit Pistons.
Gortat's Response Didn't Take Long
Phoenix's center couldn't have been more displeased with his last performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Gortat owned up to the performance directly after the game and vowed to be better.
The man can be held to his word.
Gortat finished Wednesday’s contest with only two missed shots in 12 attempts. The efficient performance totaled 25 points to go with five rebounds, and his aggressiveness resulted in 10 free-throw attempts.
Against Minnesota, Gortat only had eight points on 3-of-6 shooting.
“Obviously, games like that will happen,” Gortat said. “Before the game I felt prepared, I felt ready to play, but for a couple of different reasons I just wasn’t able to play well.
“That’s why I tried to come back in this game really strong to make sure I was going to be involved offensively.”
One of the main reasons why he was involved so easily with the offense this game was the play of Nash. As usual, the point guard found Gortat on pick-and-rolls and lead passes on the break.
Dudley Dunks ... Again
At the beginning of the season, Dudley estimated that he would finish this season with a total of 18 dunks. On Wednesday night, the Suns’ guard dunked to double his season output.
Despite only dunking twice and being 16 off his projected total, Dudley has reasoning for why he will make a run at his number.
“I don’t start fast, but I end with a bang,” he said.
Any questions or comments for Aaron Seidlitz? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.