Suns return home from successful trip still facing uphill battle

Mar 7, 2011, 10:07 PM | Updated: Mar 8, 2011, 1:13 am

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns returned home and got right back to work Monday after going 4-2 on their six-game road trip.

Most teams would be ecstatic with that mark, but the team is disappointed to lose the final game of the trip on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime. Especially after Vince Carter had a chance to put the team ahead in the last minute of the game.

Wins are so important for the Suns if they hope to grab one of the last playoff spots in the West.

Phoenix currently sits 1.5 games back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the tight Western Conference.

“We don’t have room for error. Teams aren’t really losing that much in this contest for eight, so we really got to win as many games as we can. We got to win at least two out of every three games to get in,” said guard Steve Nash after practice on Monday.

Things have gotten even tougher for the team after learning on Monday that starting forward Channing Frye will be lost for the next two-to-three weeks with a right shoulder dislocation.

Frye was hurt in the fourth quarter of the game against the Thunder on Sunday.

He is averaging a career-high 12.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 61 games.

Coach Alvin Gentry said the coaching staff spent about two hours on Monday trying to come up with a game plan on how to replace Frye and his ability to stretch the floor.

It looks like Hakim Warrick will get the first chance to see extended minutes.

“There’s a lot of ways that we can go. Hakim Warrick has played well for us. He’s not the spacer that Channing is, but he’s really good at running the floor and still gives us the opportunity to play the way we play,” said Gentry.

Steve Nash touched on the severity of losing Frye for an extended period of time.

“He’s just been so solid defensively. It’ll be really tough, but we got to find a way to make up for him,” said Nash.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Suns as new addition Aaron Brooks really started to take off towards the end of the road trip.

“We like what he brings to the table. He fits in well with our guys and he’s one of those little guys that can really score,” said Gentry.

The Suns’ coach said it was just a matter of Brooks getting comfortable with his new teammates and their style of play.

“He still really hasn’t had a legitimate practice. He was really cautious of not stepping on toes,” said Gentry.

“I had to explain to him that this is a different group of guys. If you come down and take five straight shots, if they’re good shots, nobody says anything.”

The Suns’ coach added that the team is finally starting to gel and develop a tight bond.

“The chemistry of our team is coming together. Guys are feeling much better about their roles and what they can do to this team,” said Gentry.

Gentry said the team spent a lot time together while they were out on their six-game, 11-day road trip.

“When you’re in cities where there’s really not a whole lot to do, guys have a tendency to be together,” said Gentry.

Phoenix (32-29) now plays its next three games at home starting with the Houston Rockets (32-32) on Tuesday before taking on the Denver Nuggets (37-27) on Thursday and Orlando Magic (40-23) on Sunday.

“We just need to regroup and have a great week at home,” said Nash.

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