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Suns clinch playoff spot, Raptors one step closer

Last night’s Bulls-Suns game may not have seemed like a marquee match-up, but it went to the wire and held some rather significant playoff implications. That, and Flip Murray decided to throw in 23 points on just 12 shots just for the hell of it.

The Bulls took away the Suns’ early 12-point lead behind the efforts of Murray and Derrick Rose, but because Steve Nash is Steve Nash and because Channing Frye is Channing Frye (this year’s model, at least), Phoenix was able to stage a late-game comeback of their own and lock up the win in the game’s closing seconds.

It’s big for a few reasons. First, Phoenix has officially clinched a spot in the playoffs...even if that hardly qualifies as news at this point in the season. The Suns have been on an absolute tear of late and regardless, their inclusion in the postseason has been more or less a given all year. It does inch them even closer toward a high seed in the West, though, as last night’s win moved the Suns into sole possession of the fourth seed. Phoenix is just a game out of second. Start shaking in your boots, Mavs and Jazz.

Out East, a loss for the 9th place Bulls means that the Raptors, who currently hold a 1.5 game edge over Chicago, are inching closer to securing a playoff spot of their own. They’ll have the distinct pleasure of being swept by the Cavs in the first round if they can hold onto that lead, though it does seem like Derrick Rose really, really wants to lose to LeBron. I’ve never been one for getting completely embarrassed on national TV myself, but hey, different strokes.