The short-handed Phoenix Suns are slumping ahead of next week's grueling stretch, but they've at least drawn a buffer game against the NBA's worst team beforehand.
The Suns will try to snap a three-game losing streak by earning a sixth straight win over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Phoenix (12-19) has lost five of its last six and will close a three-game homestand against Cleveland on Monday before its upcoming four-game trip begins at San Antonio on Wednesday and hits Oklahoma City the next night.
Making matters worse, the Suns will be without forward Markieff Morris for the next two games after the club suspended him without pay for what was termed "conduct detrimental to the team."
Morris, who averages 10.8 points and had started 16 of the first 18 games, received the ban a day after throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek in the fourth quarter of a 104-96 loss to a Denver team playing without two starters and had lost to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers the night before.
"He's mad about not playing," Hornacek said after the game. "I look at the stat sheet, he's a minus-13 in 12 minutes. So there I took him out. He thinks he is better than that. Well, show me."
Morris has averaged just 7.3 points in his last 10 while sitting out several games due to coach's decision. He repeatedly tweeted his desire for a trade after his brother Marcus was dealt to Detroit in July. The twins were indicted in April on felony aggravated assault charges for allegedly beating a man outside a city recreation center.
The Suns have shot 41.7 percent on their losing streak and have averaged 18.3 turnovers in their last six games. They have, however, won five straight in this series, including the last three in Phoenix. They have won 23 of 28 at home against the Sixers.
While the 76ers (1-30) are stuck in another lengthy losing streak, they added a piece on Christmas Eve by acquiring point guard Ish Smith from New Orleans for a pair of second-round draft picks.
Smith, who averaged 12.0 points in 25 games for the 76ers last season, was putting up 8.9 points and 5.7 assists in 27 with the Pelicans. He is the only NBA player this season who has at least 150 assists while committing 45 or fewer turnovers.
Smith will try to boost a backcourt that has just one player averaging double-digit points - Isaiah Canaan at 10.9 - and will also try to help snap a 12-game losing streak.
Philadelphia dropped the opener of a six-game trip with Wednesday's 113-100 loss at Milwaukee - its 23rd consecutive road loss dating to late March.
Jahlil Okafor finished with 17 points and Carl Landry added 10 in 13 minutes in his first action since undergoing right wrist surgery in June.
The Sixers allowed more than 100 points for the sixth consecutive game - a span in which they've allowed opponents to shoot 52.1 percent - and committed 23 turnovers for their third straight contest with at least 21.
"It is my greatest discomfort when our team doesn't guard," coach Brett Brown said. "The sting in our defense must be reclaimed."
Philadelphia also waived guard Tony Wroten on Thursday. Wroten has been plagued by injuries all season while averaging 8.4 points over eight games after scoring 16.9 per game in 30 last season.