Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Frye's Career High Leads Suns Over Jazz

Frye was 8-for-8 from the floor tonight before missing his first shot.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Feb. 15, 2011

The Jazz have to pretty sick of seeing the Suns. After Jerry Sloan resigned after 23 years of coaching last Thursday, the first team the Jazz faced in the post-Sloan era was Phoenix.

They also happened to face the Suns in the second game of the post-Sloan era with the results being no different, dropping a 102-101 decision in US Airways Center on Tuesday.

“We knew they were going to come out hard, so we had to play good defense,” Suns swingman Mickael Pietrus said. “I think our defense did great tonight and that’s why we have been winning games the past couple of weeks, playing defense. We are one of the best team defenses in the NBA over the last 15 games.”

Utah came out strong, jumping out to an early-eight point lead. Meanwhile, six of the seven Suns that played in the first period accounted for only 10 points.

Luckily for them though, Channing Frye was that seventh player. Frye set a season high for most points in a quarter for a Suns player when he erupted for 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the floor and 5-of-5 shooting from downtown in the period.

The 6-11 forward would make it to 8-for-8 before registering his first miss. His hot shooting kept Phoenix close until it reclaimed the lead in the third period.

He finished with a career-high 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the floor and 6-of-10 shooting from downtown to go along with his 11 rebounds. The Suns are now 6-0 when Frye scores 20 or more points this season.

“Igor kind of (Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov) challenged me,” Frye said. “He said, ‘You know we pay you to make some shots, so you better get out there and make some.’ So I just went out there and had confidence in shooting them.”

Steve Nash propelled the attack as usual, racking up 20 points and 14 assists. With his ninth assist, the Suns playmaker leap-frogged Gary Payton into seventh place on the NBA’s all-time assist list.

Off the bench, Mickael Pietrus scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth period and Marcin Gortat added 11 points and seven rebounds on the night.

Grant Hill, who posted 10 points in his own right, dogged Utah point guard Deron Williams the entire night, forcing him into six turnovers and holding the All-Star to 2-of-11 shooting on the night.

“I can’t say enough about the job Grant did on Deron tonight,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “If anyone should be on the All-Defensive Team, it should be him. And I’ll continue to say that no one out there is asked to do more.”

Besides limiting their floor general, the Suns also cleaned up their ballhandling. After turning the ball over 14 times in the first half, they only coughed it up three more times the rest of the way.

The Suns host the Mavs on TNT in their last game before the All-Star break on Thursday.

Return of the Dragon

After slicing his left foot on some glass to the point where it needed nine stitches just below his left big toe, Suns guard Goran Dragic was forced to miss the last seven games. He last appeared in uniform on January 28 against Boston.

Before the game, Gentry said, “He feels like it’s strong enough. He ran and cut on it so he feels like it’s pretty stable, so he’ll go.”

Dragic said that he wasn’t feeling any pain with it.

“Maybe yesterday I was thinking about it a little bit, but today, everything was normal," he said.

Heading into the game, Dragic stated that his conditioning was fine, and that he was hoping that his return could help bolster a second unit that struggles to hold or increase leads at times. However, the third-year guard only played five minutes Tuesday, with Coach Gentry citing "a little rustiness" as the reason.

Family Ties

While Arizona and Utah may be geographically tied together, the roots go even deeper when it pertains to their pro basketball teams. Jazz Head Coach Tyrone Corbin and Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek were both former Suns.

Corbin spent two years as a Sun, while Hornacek spent six years in the Valley. In fact, the duo played alongside each other in both Phoenix and Utah.

With Corbin being promoted to head coach with the resignation of Jerry Sloan last week, Hornacek was moved from part-time shooting coach to full-time assistant coach. Corbin thought that Hornacek, who is still a Valley resident, was would be a great addition to the staff.

“He knows the guys because he’s been with us over the last few years doing developmental work,” Corbin said. “They know who he is, they know what he’s accomplished in this league and they respect him.”

It was the right time for Hornacek, who has one son out of college, one in college and daughter about a year away from it.

“It was a good time,” Hornacek said. “There’s a couple months left in the season and my daughter is getting to the age (she’s a junior in high school) where I can start looking at these things. It was a good opportunity.”

Hornacek’s familiarity with the Jazz over the last couple years as a coach, as well as his experience as a player for the Jazz, made him the perfect fit for Utah's staff. The former Suns guard said that the Jazz's plays – and even most of the numbers of the plays – still remain the same from when he played.

“It’s hard anytime during the middle of the season when a coach leaves,” Hornacek said. “Ty was put in a tough spot. For him to try to bring in two guys that don’t know the system, it’s a lot easier.”

Bell Tolls in Phoenix

Former Suns shooting guard Raja Bell missed Tuesday’s game with a strained calf, but was available to reporters after shootaround. Bell, who spent four years with the Suns, still owns a house in Paradise Valley.

He is also a partner in the Moody Blues clothing store and with Lucky Strike bowling lanes downtown. Bell still maintains a great friendship with Steve Nash, participating in his celebrity soccer match in New York last summer.

“The Valley has always been one of my favorite places,” Bell said. “Who knows when it’s all said and done if we can get back this way.”

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