Channing Frye lead the Suns with 25 points including 6 three-pointer. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 120 to 112 and are 3-0 to open the season. (Photo by Max Simbron)
The Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach Kurt Rambis thought his team played well but as a young squad weren't prepared to deal with the Phoenix Suns style. He was pleased with his star center Al Jefferson and played him more minutes (33) than his team doctors advised.
Jefferson started the game hot, going 5 for 8 for 11 points, and was his usual dominant self in the post. From that point on, Rambis thought he looked winded at times and he was only able to score 4 times in his next 15 attempts. Without Jefferson getting high percentage baskets, the Timberwolves struggled to score and finished the game with a 46% shooting average after going 57% in the first quarter.
The Suns, and mainly Amare Stoudemire, did a better job defensively than we've seen in the past. At one point, Frye over played Jefferson's left hand and forced him baseline. When he spun off and went to the rim, Amare was waiting for a fantastic block. One of two he recorded on the night.
Jefferson even appreciated the rejection and gave Amare his props with a friendly forearm bump.
Offensively, the Suns shot 50% from the field and 54% from behind the line, mostly in part to Channing Frye's 6 of 10 three pointers. In just his third game as a Sun, Frye has set a career season high for made three-pointers. He's now 13 of 20 on the season.
Frye said he began working on increasing his range when he was traded to the Portland Trailblazers, where he knew he might be paired with bigger post players. He is still adjusting to the Suns system and mostly to the idea that he's being counted on to take those open shots.
"It's early in the season so we will see how defenses start to play me. I think a lot of teams weren't going to play me as a shooter I thought I was, but now I'm kind of establishing that. I just need to continue working on my game and stay humble," said Frye.
On two occasions during this game Frye put the ball on the floor and was able to get the rim and score. Like he said, as teams adjust they aren't going to leave him as open and he will need to both drive but also pass the ball well to the open man.
Neither Steve Nash nor Grant Hill think the Suns offense is close to reaching its potential. Not only do they feel that Amare will continue to improve, but that the entire team is still searching for the rhythm and timing that will come with more time.
"We're not there. We're still scoring points. On offense we can be better. We are scoring because we've got guys that can put the ball in the basket but it's not, it's not what I think it could be," said Grant Hill about where the team was towards reaching its potential. Click here for the full answer
The game was close through the first half but the Suns were able to pull away and build the lead to 17 points at about the 8 minute mark of the fourth quarter. With Steve Nash going cold and missing all 4 of his attempts in the 4th period, the Timberwolves battled back and cut the lead to 5 with only 3 minutes to play.
With his shot not falling Nash penetrated into the lane and found Grant Hill open in the corner. Grant hit the shot giving Nash 1 of his 14 assists on the night and essentially sealed the win.
The Suns now leave for a difficult five-game east coast road trip that includes two back-to-backs. Winning the first three games of the season was a nice start, but this road trip (with both Boston and Orlando on the schedule) will be a true measure of where things are. If the Suns can come home having won 3 of 5 that would be fantastic. 2 of 5 is more realistic. Anything less than that would be a disappointment.
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Frye, Suns take down T-Wolves
The Suns improved to 3-0 on the season with a 120-112 win over Minnesota Sunday in Phoenix.