Suns coach Alvin Gentry is asking his team to give chasing a playoff spot the old college try.

Gentry has spun the Suns' 28 games after the All-Star break - likening the span to a college season, and the Suns are a bubble team trying to earn their invite to the big dance.

The Suns made their first floor moves Wednesday night, beating a winning team for the seventh time in their past nine tries with a 105-97 victory against the Atlanta Hawks at US Airways Center.

The Suns (28-27) remain in 10th in the West, tied in the loss column with Utah (31-27) and Memphis (32-27), but can feel a little bit closer to the NBA's "April Madness" by carrying over the improvements they had shown before the All-Star break.

"We've got 27 games left, and we don't have a conference tournament, so we've got to have an at-large bid," Gentry said.

The Suns looked playoff worthy Wednesday night by not trailing for the final three quarters, even when Atlanta tried to burst their bubble. Earning a win before starting a six-game road trip began to look dicey when the Suns' 18-point lead shortly before halftime crumbled, as the Hawks tied the score with five minutes to go on a 3-pointer by Joe Johnson, whom Grant Hill limited to 5-for-13 shooting.

When the Suns closed the pre-break stretch on a 12-6 upswing, they chuckled when saying they were winning games defensively, but that is where they turned around Wednesday's game and how they held on to win.

Atlanta has lost five of its past six games, usually getting off to awful offensive starts. After the first quarter Wednesday, the Hawks trailed 33-31. From there, the Suns held Atlanta to 44.6 percent shooting over the final three quarters.