First, the Hornets clinched one of the eight Western Conference playoff berths. Then they moved one step from clinching no worse than the seventh spot as they try to strengthen their standing in the waning days of the regular season.
The Hornets improved to 46-33 with a 109-97 victory against the Suns on Friday night in the New Orleans Arena. That kept them one game ahead of the eighth-place Grizzlies with three games to play.
New Orleans plays at Memphis on Sunday and a victory would guarantee it no worse than the seventh seed as it has clinched the tiebreaker against the Grizzlies. The Hornets can clinch no worse than the sixth seed by winning out.
"It's all just fine-tuning," guard Chris Paul said. "We want to go into the playoffs full-steam ahead. We just continue to work and keep trying to get as good as we can."
Coach Monty Williams said he was pleased that his team didn't have any letdown after clinching a playoff spot with a 101-93 victory against Houston on Wednesday.
"That was an emotional set-up to me, coming off our win against Houston," Williams said. "To come into this game and not have any residual effect from that, I was worried about that."
New Orleans, which plays host to Utah on Monday and plays at Dallas on Wednesday, still has a mathematical chance of catching the fifth-place Nuggets.
HORNETS 109, SUNS 97: Willie Green set a franchise record by making his first 12 shots and he went on to score a season-high 31 points. Green made his first five three-pointers and his eight consecutive points gave the Hornets a 19-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. After his record start, Green missed his final five shots.
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