So here are the Suns, at 32-29 with a feeling of controlling there own destiny for the playoffs -- they have four of their remaining five regular-season games at home.
Phoenix officially took one team out of the equation Monday night -- the Blazers. Portland will miss the postseason after a disappointing campaign.
The schedule for the Suns isn't exactly favorable, with four potential playoff teams to play in Oklahoma City (already in), the Los Angeles Clippers (in), Denver (likely in) and San Antonio (in). And then there is scrappy Utah, which won't go away though they are on the outside looking in for the eighth spot currently held by the Suns thanks to a tiebreaker over Houston.
"It was a win that we needed. One that we had to have," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. The Suns shot a season-best 60 percent from the field, the first 60-percent game since November 25, 2009 against Memphis. Their starters made 34 of 50 shots, without Grant Hill in the lineup.
The road is toughest for the Suns, because the Rockets have home games against Golden State and New Orleans (both with nothing to play for) and road games at Dallas, New Orleans and Miami, and the Heat are already in from the East.
"Playing at a pace that we like to play at," guard Shannon Brown said. "When we do, there's really not to many teams that can stick with us offensively."
Forward Jared Dudley said the team played unselfish.
"People had us for dead beginning of the season, middle of the season, All-Star break," he said. "And we've worked out butts off, we've played through it, guys have learned their roles and I think we're ready to do it."
Players expect the playoff race to come down to the wire.
"It's gonna be tough for every (team)," Steve Nash said. "It should be exciting."
Nash (sore hip) got some much-needed rest after playing just 27 minutes, 25 seconds and dishing out 13 assists.
"We struggle when he's not healthy," Gentry said. But Nash should be healthier this week, and the Suns will be bolstered by the return of Hill from a knee problem.