(SportsNetwork.com) - The New Orleans Pelicans can punch their postseason ticket Monday night, with some help, when they visit the Target Center to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Pelicans are tied for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Western Conference with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but New Orleans holds the tiebreaker advantage.
A Monday win for the Pelicans, coupled with an OKC loss at home to the Portland Trail Blazers, and the final spot belongs to New Orleans.
That scenario seems possible considering the T-wolves have dropped 10 straight and share the worst mark in the NBA at 16-64. Couple that with the fact that OKC's Russell Westbrook received his 16th technical foul on Sunday and, unless the league rescinds it, would mean a one-game suspension on Monday night.
The Pelicans had a chance to trim their magic number, but lost in Houston to the Rockets Sunday night, 121-114.
Anthony Davis led seven Pelicans in double figures with 27 points. Jrue Holiday added 17 points and Ryan Anderson chipped in 15 in the loss. Omer Asik finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans.
The Rockets opened the fourth quarter with a 14-5 run to take their first lead since it was a 13-11 game midway through the first quarter.
Corey Brewer and Dwight Howard provided all of Houston's points during the four-minute stretch, with Brewer's driving bucket forcing the Pelicans to call a timeout after falling in a 100-91 hole.
The Pelicans adopted the "Hack-a-Rocket" strategy down the stretch, and a 12-16 effort at the stripe over the final four minutes sealed Houston's win.
"Our defense at the end of the third quarter and beginning of fourth quarter, and Brewer's energy changed the game." Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said.
New Orleans finishes the season Wednesday at home against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Timberwolves haven't won since March 23 in Utah. They haven't won at home since March 7 against the Portland Trail Blazers, a span of six consecutive games.
Minnesota returned home from a four-game winless trip through the west, cemented by a 110-101 setback to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
Zach LaVine scored a career-high 37 points to go with nine boards for Minnesota.
"I got hot," said LaVine. "I feel like I can't miss. It's just another game. I thought we could've won it."
Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Wiggins chipped in 17, while Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger and Justin Hamilton each had 12 in the loss. Hamilton pulled down 10 boards in defeat.
The T-wolves couldn't contain the Splash Brothers as they combined for 57 points.
The Pelicans have won four straight over the Timberwolves, but Minnesota is 4-1 in its last five versus New Orleans at the Target Center.