Newsroom Notes: Frye and Dudley Ignite Suns to Game 5 Victory

Frye also had two steals Monday.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: April 26, 2010

The NBA may have not only rescinded Channing Frye’s flagrant foul from Game 4, but also his poor shooting. After learning from the league office that his foul on Portland’s Nicolas Batum wasn’t flagrant, the Suns center went out and posted his best-ever postseason effort in Game 5 on Monday.

After averaging 11.2 points a game this season, the second-highest amount of his career, Frye had been a virtual non-factor against his former club this series. After posting a respectable 12 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting in a Game 1 loss, Frye only managed three, four and seven points on 5-of-22 shooting in his next three games.

But Game 5 was a different story, with the reserve center shooting 5-of-8 from the floor to compile 13 points and six rebounds in just the first half. For the night, Frye totaled 20 points and eight rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.

“We just told him to relax and shoot it and he spent some extra time shooting today," Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. "We gave him a little DVD of a few games where he made 7-of-10, 7-of-10, 6-of-10 and 5-of-7 and just told him to take a look at it and see if there is anything that he could see in it.”

His studying appeared to trigger some ideas for Frye to try to implement in Monday’s game.

“I saw my space was kind of bad in the first games and my feet weren’t set like they usually are and in this game I just tried to make sure my feet were set and I was ready to go,” Frye said. “It didn’t hurt I was on the glass early and some nights the ball comes your way and tonight it came my way.”

Even more impressive was the fact that the 6-11 center did all of his damage in just 28 minutes. Frye helped rally his team back from a 14-point, first-quarter deficit, which was tied for the second-highest comeback in the entire 2010 playoffs.

“He wasn’t hesitating tonight,” Blazers Head Coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he was aggressive in looking for his shot. There’s been talk about and he and Dudley needing to step up and I thought tonight we made some mistakes on our coverages.”

Like Frye, reserve Jared Dudley had been M.I.A. all series. But with the Law of Averages stating that everything would even out over time, it seemed eminent that Dudley (fourth in the league in 3-point percentage) and Frye (sixth in the league in 3-point percentage) would catch fire.

“I thought the second unit did a good job of getting themselves in the open court,” Gentry said. “When we do that with Channing and JD out there and they make a couple of three-point shots for us, that makes all the difference in the world.”

Dudley, who totaled just 13 points in the first four games of the series on 5-of-17 shooting, found his touch from the perimeter tonight. He drilled 6-of-10 from the field, including 5-of-9 from downtown to finish with 19 points.

“It feels good to get my rhythm going better,” Dudley said. “Early on in this series we didn’t have many good looks and today I thought I had a lot of wide open looks starting in transition with Steve (Nash) finding me. Once you play a team over and over you start to see how they’re going to play you and my teammates just found me.”

Not only was it timely for Frye and Dudley to get hot in the series, but also the game. The Blazers jumped all over the Suns early, racing out to a 9-0 lead in the first period. However, Frye and Dudley helped engineer a 16-2 run at the end of the first quarter to tie the game back up.

Frye and Dudley's play also helped Phoenix improve to 10-0 in their last 10 games after suffering a loss.

Unsung Defense

Pitted as a series between an offensive juggernaut and a defensive stalwart, the more potent offensive team appears to be better on D than expected. In fact, coming into Game 5, the Suns were surrendering the third-fewest points of any Western Conference team in the playoffs.

Their opponents, the Blazers, who were known for their stingy defense throughout the regular season, came in to Game 5 allowing 103.5 points a night. That was only good for 13th out of 16 playoff teams.

On Monday, the Suns executed their defensive schemes again, limiting the Blazers’ offense to just 19 points in both the second and third periods.

“We were all over the place,” Suns forward Amar’e Stoudemire said. “Rotation was great, boxing out and rebounding was great and we did a phenomenal job defensively and that carried us.”

His frontcourt-mate agreed.

“It was like, bust it on the boards and let’s play some good D and stuff is going to come your way,” Frye said.

Batum Factor

Through the first four games, the X-factor for the Blazers has been the play of second-year forward Nicolas Batum. According to NBA.com’s +/- calculator, Portland’s best two-player combination occurs with Batum on the floor witheither Brandon Roy or with Andre Aldridge.

The top five two-man combinations on the road were all with Batum coming into the night. In the Blazers' two wins, Batum was a sparkplug, reaching double figures in both games.

In the two losses before Game 5, Batum averaged just 7.5 points a game.

It was more of the same in the loss on Monday for Batum, who gave Portland just a three-point, two-rebound and one-turnover effort in 18 minutes.

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