Phoenix 102 at Milwaukee 88

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Frye scores 20, Suns’ big run beats Bucks
By COLIN FLY, AP Sports Writer Friday, Mar 4, 2011

MILWAUKEE (AP)—Channing Frye(notes) insists no one expects the Phoenix Suns to reach the postseason. That’s exactly what might make them so dangerous.

Frye scored 20 points and the Suns used a blistering 19-0 run in the third quarter to flip a deficit into a big lead in a 102-88 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Frye said. “Nobody thought we were going to be nothing anyway, so hey, we make it to the playoffs again, we might do what we did last year.”

The Suns reached the Western Conference finals last season, but are currently a half-game back of Memphis for the final playoff spot this season after winning 12 of their last 16. They finish a six-game road trip at Oklahoma City on Sunday.

It appeared they might drop this one, though, after a lackadaisical first half that had coach Alvin Gentry irate.

“Coach came in here and gave us a stern tongue lashing,” Frye said. “It shouldn’t have to take that. For us, we need to be more desperate, we need to be extremely desperate.”

Trailing 53-45, Frye converted a three-point play to spark 12 points in a span of 1:38 that the Suns stretched to 19 in a row.

“We really want to make the playoffs. I don’t want to be on vacation in April. It’s so boring,” said Mickael Pietrus(notes), who scored 20 points. “I don’t want to be watching on TV.”

Corey Maggette(notes) scored 21 points for the Bucks, who were missing four regulars, including center Andrew Bogut(notes) due to injuries or illness.

“Seems like we ran out of gas,” said Brandon Jennings(notes), who scored 16 points but went 5 of 17 from the field. “It’s something that’s been happening the whole year.”

Grant Hill(notes) scored 14 points and Steve Nash(notes) had 13 assists for Phoenix, which lost at Boston on Wednesday and was without Vince Carter(notes) after lingering dizziness following a collision with Frye against the Celtics.

Frye said the experience was humbling to be beaten up by the Celtics before banging violently into another teammate.

“Getting conked on the head was kind of like a reality—at any moment, this can all be taken away,” Frye said.

The Suns (32-28) haven’t lost two in a row since a three-game skid that ended Jan. 26 as they’ve climbed back into the Western Conference race by scoring at will.

Phoenix extended its streak of at least 100 points to a season-best nine straight games.

This was a familiar feeling for the slumping Bucks, who had been looking to win two in a row for the first time since January. Milwaukee, the lowest-scoring, worst-shooting team in the NBA went cold during the Suns’ big run.

After John Salmons(notes) made a tough layup in the paint that gave Milwaukee a 53-45 lead, the Bucks fell apart.

Frye converted a three-point play, Robin Lopez(notes) hit a jumper, Frye made a 3, Lopez hit a free throw and Pietrus added another 3 to make it 57-53 over the stretch of 1 minute, 38 seconds.

The Suns weren’t done, reeling off seven more points to take a 64-53 lead.

After Maggette’s free throws snapped a scoreless stretch of nearly 5 1/2 minutes, Nash and Hill hit 3s and Pietrus and Marcin Gortat(notes) each had three-point plays that extended it to 76-59 late in the quarter.

“If you’re going 11 or 12 possessions without a basket, then it also kind of caves in on the other end, it’s going to be disastrous,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.

Milwaukee (23-37) fell to 4-11 in its last 15 even as Skiles acknowledged the Bucks entered play Friday night just three games down in the loss column from the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

But the Bucks haven’t been able to stay healthy this year. Against Phoenix, they were without Bogut (strained left side), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute(notes) (flu), Ersan Ilyasova(notes) (concussion) and Drew Gooden(notes) (left foot).

Phoenix finished 11 of 18 from the field and hit their first five 3-point attempts to outscore Milwaukee 31-15 in the third quarter. The Suns have one more game in what’s shaping up to be a special road trip.

“You’ve just got to pick your poison on certain nights,” Frye said. “It’s just how our system works. When we play unselfish and the ball is finding the right guy, it’s pretty to watch.”

Notes: Nash had seven turnovers in the first half and zero in the second. … Frye scored Phoenix’s first nine points of the game and finished the first quarter with 11. He surpassed his season average of 12.2 with a 3-pointer midway through the second. … Phoenix has won nine of the last 10 against the Bucks, and 35 of the last 40 in the series.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Phoenix
C. Frye Channing Frye
7-12,  20 Pts
9 Rebs, 1 Assists
 Milwaukee
C. Maggette Corey Maggette
8-12,  21 Pts
9 Rebs, 0 Assists

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Friday, Mar 4