- The Phoenix Suns will be shorthanded in what basically amounts to a play-in game against the Utah Jazz tonight. Channing Frye, who suffered a subluxed right shoulder against Denver on Saturday night, will not play. Frye dislocated the same shoulder last season. Rookie Markieff Morris will start in his place. Frye joined the Suns this afternoon after his wife, Lauren, gave birth to the couple’s first daughter on Monday.
- The Suns do have what will likely be some positive news for tonight’s game. Grant Hill should be able to come off the bench and contribute for Phoenix. He has missed the Suns’ last four games with a sore right knee. He reinjured the knee against San Antonio, on April 14, when he was playing in his second game since he had arthroscopic surgery on March 30. “He’s gone through his (pregame workout),” said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. “We’ll see how he feels in the locker room. I think he won’t do anything that’s going to put himself at risk. If he’s playing it’s because he feels good and can help the team.”
- The Jazz, meanwhile, have more players available than they have in weeks. Raja Bell and Josh Howard are both active. Bell, who has started in all 33 games he’s played in this season, will dress and come off the bench. He hasn’t played since March 15 while recovering from a left knee injury. Howard hasn’t played since March 18 while recovering from left knee surgery. “They will dress,” said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. “We’ll see if there’s an opportunity to put them in the game.”
- The Jazz have excelled with their younger players since Bell and Howard have been sidelined. Corbin admits he’s worried about on-court chemistry with Bell and Howard returning to the court. “That’s a huge concern,” Corbin said. “We haven’t really had a lot of practice time with the other guys. They’re veteran guys. We’re going to make sure we don’t disrupt the chemistry we’ve built with the other guys up this point.”
- There will definitely be a playoff atmosphere for tonight’s game. Utah earns the Western Conference’s final playoff berth with a victory. Phoenix needs to win tonight, and then either defeat San Antonio on Wednesday or have the Jazz lose to Portland on Thursday to clinch the playoff spot. The Suns have defeated the Jazz seven straight times.