Preview: New Orleans Hornets (26-50) at Phoenix Suns (23-53)

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Time: 6 p.m. MST




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A run to avoid history requires the Suns win their final six games of the 2012-13 season, and reaching the 29-win mark would equal a total that Phoenix finished with the year before acquiring Steve Nash. A single loss ties them for the worst season since the 1987-88 year, and more than that, well, would historically set this team all by itself.

Phoenix hosts the New Orleans Hornets with that and a potential for a franchise-worst, seven-game home losing streak on the players’ minds. The Suns enter Sunday’s game on an eight-game losing streak.

Update: 3:40 p.m. — Garrett recalled
After a one-game stint with the Bakersfield Jam, point guard Diante Garrett was recalled back to the Suns after helping the Jam secure a No. 1 seed in the D-League playoffs. The rookie put up 32 points, six assists and six rebounds to help Bakersfield to a 106-105 win against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Saturday. View the entire game on YouTube here.

Though Phoenix has lost three in a row to three playoff-bound clubs, quarter-long lapses and failures to execute down the stretches of close games have doomed interim coach Lindsey Hunter’s team. It’s as if Alvin Gentry hadn’t left and if the team was still working through a revamped roster in early November. The difference now is that the team has a better feel for what few assets it has and who is deemed untouchable in the NBA market — if anyone.

So the Suns face a Hornets club that’s at least one step ahead in the rebuilding process. That step, of course, would be the development of first overall pick Anthony Davis, who is coming off a 24-point, 12-rebound performance in a 95-83 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday. It was the 20-year-old’s third-highest scoring game of the year.

Phoenix also gets a look at a familiar face in center Robin Lopez, who is still averaging solid numbers of 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in his last 10 games, and MIP candidate Greivis Vasquez.

More interestingly, the Suns also host offseason offer sheet signee Eric Gordon, who is struggling to live up to the $58 million contract that the Hornets matched. He is averaging 16.5 points per game this year on 40.2 percent shooting from the field in less than 30 minutes per game. And not only is the fanbase in the Big Easy growing louder with its displeasure for him. Gordon was benched in the Hornets’ last game against the Jazz after getting into a shouting match with coach Monty Williams, according to The Times-Picayune.

Hidden behind the aftermath of a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Hunter’s team got some help in the draft lottery race as the Cleveland Cavaliers surprised the Boston Celtics. That victory slid the Suns to third in terms of the NBA’s worst record by a half game.

Four and a half games behind the Orlando Magic and 5 1/2 behind the Charlotte Bobcats, third might be the best the Suns are able to do.

But Hunter isn’t worrying about the lottery. While it’s widely believed that the coaching job is his to lose following this season, it’s clear he’s doing everything he can to bring the best out of his players despite the current situation. Only decisions coming from the front office can keep Goran Dragic or Luis Scola out of games moving forward.

While the decision to hire Hunter might’ve come controversially, it’s true that some of the Suns who traditionally have played the hardest are continuing to do so for their interim coach. There still appears to be fight in some of the Suns — not enough, but some — and Hunter deserves credit for holding the locker room together to some degree.

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