On Sunday, Channing Frye propelled the Suns over the Indiana Pacers with a toe-on-the-line, contested jumper as time expired. On Monday, he did it again. This time it came with 6.6 seconds left in overtime to give Phoenix a 104-103 win against the New Jersey Nets. It was the Suns’ fourth consecutive win to start the second half, and considering the log jam at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff standings, they’re going to need every one of them as the season moves into its waning stages.
With that in mind, there are two ways to look at Frye’s heroics: glass half full, or glass half empty. If you’re a glass-half-full guy, you’re taking your wins and running. You don’t care that Channing had to hit back-to-back statistically improbable buzzer-beaters just to pull out a couple nail-biting wins against two sub-.500 teams. If you’re a glass-half-full guy, you’re pointing to the fact that the Pacers have a good shot at making the playoffs, the Nets are a markedly different team with newly acquired Deron Williams in the lineup, and both games were on the road.
On the other hand, if you’re a glass-half-empty guy, you’re pointing out the blatantly obvious: If the Suns need 30-plus points from Grant Hill (which they got against Indiana), and back-to-back last-second heaves from Channing just to eke out two overtime wins against relatively bad teams, well, how long can that really last?
Me? I’m sort of in the middle, which is where I pretty much always am when it comes to the Suns. I’ll never knock four consecutive wins in the NBA, especially when three come on the road, and the latter two on back-to-back days. But I can’t be more than cautiously optimistic. A few days back I said that the Suns would find a way to run off 18-20 wins in the second half and creep into the playoffs, and I still think they will. And truth be told, with all the roster shake-ups Phoenix has endured this year, with Amare sowing his oats in New York and J-Rich doing the same in Orlando, qualifying for the playoffs with something close to 50 wins would be a major accomplishment for this team. But rest assured, if Frye has to keep saving the day against the likes of the Nets, even if the Suns do make the playoffs, they won’t be there for more than five games.
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Written by Brad Botkin