Channing Frye just missed his career high, but still came away with a rare double-double— Offensive Player Of The Game AND Defensive Player Of The Game.
What with being a registered sniper with a license to thrill, Frye’s 29 points that included five treys wasn’t all that surprising. After all, Shots-R-Him. But although his scoring outburst was instrumental in carrying the weary Suns (they arrived home from Golden State at 3:30 a.m.) to victory, it was his spectacular block of a Mike Dunleavy shot that finally sealed the deal.
When Dunleavy turned the ball loose at point-blank range it appeared the Suns’ lead was about to shrink to one point. But Fry swatted the ball away, triggering a sequence that culminated in a three-pointer by Jason Richardson–a five-point swing that turned 91-90 into 94-88 with four minutes left, and the Pacers never got closer than four the rest of the way. (It was Fry’s third block of the evening, by the way).
Of course, this wasn’t ALL about Fry. In fact, Coach Alvin correctly called it a “team” win, noting that everybody made a contribution. And just about everybody did, even Earl Barron, whose space-occupying presence helped ease the team’s chronic and oft-chronicled inside woes in the “red zone.”
In fact, even the Pacers chipped in with 26 turnovers. Many of those were due defensive hustle, as attested by 14 Suns’ steals, but many of them were early Christmas gifts.
Fry, incidentally, wasn’t the only defensive star for the Suns. Grant Hill struggled with his shot (2-for-9) but helped hound Pacer star Danny Granger into 2-for-13 woes.
This was a subtly significant victory for the Suns, serving as it does as a springboard to a nice December run. A loss would have dropped them back under .500. But instead they are 10-9 with a two-game winning streak to build on, with four one the next five games at home.
And give the degree of difficulty of their early schedule, complicated by the fact their center, Robin Lopez, missed 9 games (and counting), and Steve Nash missed two-and-a-half, not to mention the need to retrofit the rotation, 10-9 isn’t too shabby at all.
The bottom line: This has to be the best 10-9 team in the NBA, one that has 45-37 (with a plus or minus margin of error of two) written all over it.