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Suns control their own playoff destiny

The Sports Xchange

Without Grant Hill and facing the Clippers in a back-to-back situation, the Suns did what they had to do to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Trailing much of the game but not when it counted, the Suns slugged out a 93-90 win that pushed them back into the eighth spot in the Western Conference -- tied with Utah but holding the tiebreaker.

With three games left, home against Denver and San Antonio with a road trip to Utah in between, the Suns have their destiny in their hands: Win out, and Phoenix is not only in but can climb as high as seventh. Lose any of those three games and the Suns likely need help to survive.

The Suns beat the Clippers in Phoenix for the 10th straight time, but it was a struggle. "What a game. I just thought we just kept hanging in and hanging in and found a way to pull it out at the end," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry. "It was a gut-check game and we did everything we could to just hang in there and find a way to pull it out at the end."

The Suns improved to 19-10 (.655) since the All-Star break. Phoenix entered the break six games under .500 and could become the first Western Conference team since the 1996-97 Phoenix Suns to earn a playoff berth after entering the break six or more games under .500.

"It wasn't our type of game, really, and it wasn't a clean game by either team," said guard Steve Nash, who had six assists and is now four behind Oscar Robertson for fifth on the all-time NBA list. "We found a way to hang around when we could have gone south a lot of moments (Thursday). But we hung in there and found a way to just scrap and claw -- you know, big win."

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