The Suns set themselves back in what was once a four-team race for the two remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference by falling at home to the Nuggets, who are now playoff-bound with the win. The Jazz, left to compete with the Suns and the Rockets for the final spot, take on the Dwight Howard-less Magic in Salt Lake City later tonight. Let's check in with the rest of the conference to see what else is making headlines on this Saturday evening.
- Hornets head coach Monty Williams plans to give his younger players more playing time in team's final three games of the season, writes John Reid of The Times Picayune. Williams hopes the extra minutes will give players such as forward Gustavo Ayon and guard Greivis Vasquez an extensive opportunity to work on fundamentals in an in-game setting rather than practice. The Hornets may be able to get a better sense of their myriad roster needs with a potentially busy offseason looming as the team looks to rebound from an especially trying season.
- Jason Fleming of HoopsWorld considers the best and worst case salary cap scenarios for all of the teams in the Western Conference heading into the offseason.
- Kobe Bryant and Steve Blake vocally demonstrated their support for current National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher as he faces scrutiny for demanding an independent audit of the union's business practices, reports The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry. “What’s wrong with doing an audit?” Bryant asked. “I’m very curious about that. Extremely. We all should be.” Blake, the Lakers' player representative, reiterated Bryant's sentiments by expressing his confidence in Fisher's leadership skills both on and off the court.