Frye, Richardson lead Suns past Timberwolves

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Phoenix Suns Channing Frye, left, dunks over Minnesota Timberwolves Corey Brewer during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) By Rick Scuteri Phoenix Suns Channing Frye, left, dunks over Minnesota Timberwolves Corey Brewer during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) By Rick Scuteri

PHOENIX (AP)—Channing Frye has free reign to take as many 3-point shots as he likes—as long as he keeps making them.

Frye took 10 3-points attempts and made six in the Phoenix Suns’ 120-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.

Coach Alvin Gentry said Frye “should have taken 15—he passed up a lot of shots.”

“If he’s going to make six, he can take 15,” Gentry added.

Connecting on six 3s for the second straight game, Frye finished with 25 points.

“I don’t think they’d really let me take five more,” Frye said. “I don’t try to force anything. I take them in the context of the game. I shoot them when I’m open.”

Then, with a smile, Frye said, “OK, if they’re going to let me take five more …”

Jason Richardson had 23 points in his first game following a two-game suspension and the undefeated Phoenix Suns rolled to their third victory.

“I was definitely excited to get back on the floor,” Richardson, who made 8-of-14 shots, said. “I feel I’m now a better person and a better player.”

The victory was the Suns’ 11th straight at home dating to last season and improved their home record to 16-3 under Gentry, who replaced Terry Porter in February.

This is the sixth time the Suns have begun a season 3-0, the first since 2004-05 and only the second in 25 years. It’s also the first time the Suns have opened a season with three wins against Western Conference opponents since 1996-97. They now have scored 100 or more points in 28 consecutive home games— every home game this calendar year.

Grant Hill had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. Amare Stoudemire added 19 points and eight rebounds, and Steve Nash  had 14 points and 14 assists.

Ryan Gomes led Minnesota with 23 points. Al Jeffersonscored 21 but hit only 9-of-23 shots. Corey Brewer  had 19 and Jonny Flynn  11.

The Suns now embark on a five-game road trip against Eastern teams.

“It’s great to start 3-0, it’s important for us to do it while at home,” Gentry said. “We have a huge, huge test coming up. We have five tough road games. But if we go 5-0 on the road, I’m not going to think we’re great. And if we go 0-5, I’m not going to think the season’s over.”

After a tightly contested first half, in which there were 29 lead changes and 10 ties, the Suns scored the final seven points of the second quarter and grabbed a 67-61 advantage at intermission.

The hardworking Hill, still spry at 37, topped all scorers at the break with 16 points and all rebounders with seven. He had 14 points and five rebounds in the second period.

Frye added 13 points, including three 3s, and Richardson, playing his first game following a two-game suspension for DUI, scored 10. Richardson wasted no time getting into the flow, hitting his first shot at the 24-second mark.

Jefferson led the Timberwolves with 15 points, but had only four in the second period when he shot 1 for 8.

The Timberwolves were hampered early when Flynn, their prize rookie and leading scorer after the opening two games, picked up his second personal foul only 2:26 into the game and had to sit down.

Phoenix extended its lead to 96-85 after three quarters, with the help of six 3-pointers in the third period, three by Frye. At that point, Phoenix had connected on 12 of 20 3s, a remarkable 60 percent. The Timberwolves got as close as five points, 110-105, in the fourth quarter, but the Suns held them off.

Minnesota’s first-year coach Kurt Rambis said the lack of experience hurt his team against a veteran group like the Suns.

“These guys are young,” he said. “Without experience or knowledge, they don’t know how to play against them (the Suns). They don’t understand all the nuances of playing a team like that. Late in the game, we gave ourselves a chance. But they made a couple of shots down the stretch.”

With a crowd of only 15,376 (18,422 is capacity), the Suns’ streak of home sellouts ended at 153.

NOTES: The Suns’ difficult road trip begins Tuesday at Miami, and is followed by games at Orlando, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. The trip will cover 6,849 miles. Overall, the Suns play 14 of their next 19 games on the road. … Phoenix’s last non-sellout game was March 1, 2006, against Orlando. The streak included 134 regular season games and 19 postseason games. … With his six 3-pointers, Frye surpassed his career high of 11 in a single season (2008-09); he now has 14. He also tied his single-game career high, which he had against Golden State on Friday night.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)