Suns-Rockets Game Preview
The Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets have each made strides toward contending for a Western Conference playoff berth, but both teams have plenty of work left.
If recent history is an indication, the Suns could move a step closer to accomplishing that goal Tuesday night but they'll have to do that without Channing Frye.
Phoenix lost for only the fifth time in 17 games and second time on a season-high, six-game road trip with Sunday's 122-118 overtime defeat to Oklahoma City. With that result, the Suns (32-29) remain ninth in the West and two games behind eighth-place Memphis.
That loss, though, was painful in more than just the standings as Frye dislocated his right shoulder in the fourth quarter after pulling down a career-high 15 rebounds. The forward/center, who hit two game-winning shots on the trip, is expected to miss two to three weeks.
"He's the one guy that we really can't afford to lose," coach Alvin Gentry said. "He's been great for us, ... Hopefully, it's going to be something that's short term."
Hakim Warrick, averaging 8.4 points and 3.6 rebounds, might take Frye's place in the lineup or Grant Hill could move over from small forward.
"Warrick has played well for us and done a good job," Gentry told the team's website. "He's not the spacer Channing is, but he's also very good at running the floor and finishing things. He still gives us the opportunity to play the way we want to play."
Frye, averaging 12.3 points and a career-high 6.6 rebounds this season, was one of seven players to score in double figures during a 123-116 victory in Houston on Nov. 22. Steve Nash had 24 points and nine assists after missing two games with a groin injury.
Nash has averaged 24.7 points on 65.1 percent shooting in three consecutive home wins over the Rockets (33-32). The Suns have also won six in a row overall in the series.
Houston, however, enters this matchup having won seven of eight while averaging 110.9 points. The Rockets, third in the NBA with 105.8 points per game, had one of their best scoring performances Monday with a 123-101 victory at Sacramento.
With a team-best 20 points, Chase Budinger was one of six players in double figures during coach Rick Adelman's 935th victory, tying him for 10th on the all-time list with Dick Motta.
"It means a lot to me," Adelman said. "If you take a look at all those names up there (on the top-10 list), they are some of the best coaches."
Budinger has averaged 18.3 points in his last seven games, and Houston might need his scoring in a potentially fast-paced game against Phoenix, which is averaging 105.3 points. Both teams have each scored in triple digits in the last seven matchups and six of those games have been decided by eight points or fewer.
The Rockets, though, won't have Aaron Brooks, who has averaged 26.7 points in his three previous meetings with the Suns. The point guard was traded to Phoenix for Goran Dragic on Feb. 24. Br
ooks has averaged 8.8 points in five games with the Suns and Dragic has averaged 7.8 in five with the Rockets.
The Suns and Rockets will meet for the final time this season Monday in Texas.
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