After winning their latest game, the Phoenix Suns need at least two more victories over their final three contests to avoid their first 60-loss season since they were an expansion franchise.
The Suns will try to earn the first of those Saturday night against the severely depleted New Orleans Pelicans.
Phoenix put a dent in Houston's playoff hopes with a 124-115 road victory Thursday. The Suns ended a seven-game skid with their best offensive performance of the season and outscored the Rockets 17-5 in the final 3:10.
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Mirza Teletovic was one of their three players to top 20 points with a team-leading 26.
"We've had a lot of injuries. A lot of ups and downs this year. We've been through the ringer. The one thing that's never faltered is the effort and energy that we've put out in trying to get better and trying to make our organization one of the best," said forward P.J. Tucker, who had a career-high 24 points.
Phoenix has already endured its most defeats in one season since its inaugural 1968-69 squad went 16-66 but can still avoid the dubious distinction of being a 60-loss team.
The Suns (21-58) will get to face two other eliminated teams in that attempt, New Orleans and Sacramento. They will also take on a Clippers team that's locked in the Western Conference's No. 4 seed and could be resting at least some of its players for the postseason in Wednesday's season finale.
The Pelicans (30-49) are trying to avoid their first 50-loss season since going 27-55 in 2012-13 and got one step closer with a 110-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Alexis Ajinca had career highs of 28 points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans, which also earned its third consecutive home victory.
"We didn't talk about winning the last four or five games," coach Alvin Gentry said. "We talked about the three things that we had to do was play hard, share the basketball, and getting to the right spots and executing. We figured if we did those things, we would take anything that happens from there."
Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday are among New Orleans' notable missing players.
The Pelicans had all of those players on the court for a 104-88 loss in Phoenix on Dec. 18 that ended a three-game win streak in the series.
Phoenix won't have its leading scorers from any of its matchups against the Pelicans this season. Eric Bledsoe hasn't played since undergoing left knee surgery in December, and Brandon Knight is out for the rest of the way after undergoing a hernia procedure Thursday.
The Pelicans, who have won the last three matchups with the Suns in New Orleans, have won four in a row at home just once this season, from Jan. 15-23.