The absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were felt as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a second successive defeat.
Davis registered 31 points, 12 rebounds in Thursday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but like James missed out through injury on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.
That meant the onus was on Russell Westbrook to step up, and though he had 35 points, he ultimately missed a crucial, game-clinching three-pointer, having decided to go for the win rather than try for overtime.
P.J. Washington secured the rebound after Westbrook's attempt hit the rim, and added further insult with a free throw with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to seal a 117-114 win for Charlotte.
Since a four-game winning streak was snapped by the Memphis Grizzlies on January 9, Los Angeles has won just three of their nine games.
The Hornets, meanwhile, gained revenge for their overtime loss to the Lakers back in November in the only previous meeting this season, ending a six-game losing streak against Los Angeles in the process.
Suns in red-hot form
It is now nine wins in a row for the Phoenix Suns, who lead the NBA with 39 victories in 2021-22 after overcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124.
Devin Booker led the game with 29 points, while Chris Paul had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists and Cam Johnson's tally of 23 points included crucial back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
The Suns' record of 39-9 is the best in franchise history at this stage of a season, and have now won the 30 games in which they have led after three quarters.
29 PTS— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 29, 2022
Another night in the office. pic.twitter.com/PqJ5K1ZUBE
While the Suns top the Western Conference, the Miami Heat continued their run at the top of the East by holding off a late push from the Los Angeles Clippers in a 121-114 success.
Miami has now won 10 of their last 12 games and snapped a six-game losing streak against the Clippers, who fought back to within four points but fell short of another comeback after their record-setting efforts against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
All-Star Morant sets franchise record
Ja Morant proved why he has been named an All-Star starter as he delivered a triple-double of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119-109 win for the Grizzlies over the Utah Jazz.
It was the highest-scoring triple-double in franchise history and the fourth overall for Morant, who has scored at least 30 points for five straight games as Memphis moved to 34-17.
DeMar DeRozan's return to San Antonio ended in defeat for the Chicago Bulls, who went down 131-122 to the Spurs.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double in the Denver Nuggets' victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points in an emphatic win for the Milwaukee Bucks over the New York Knicks.