Don Nelson has another chance to reach a coaching milestone. If he earns the benchmark victory Saturday, he’ll do it against the franchise that gave him his first NBA head coaching shot.
With his next victory, Nelson join all-time leader Lenny Wilkens (1,332) as the only coaches to win 1,200 games in the NBA.
Nelson is already the winningest coach in Bucks history. He became Milwaukee’s coach during the 1976-77 season, and went on to post a 540-344 record over 11 seasons there. The Bucks won seven consecutive division titles during his tenure from 1980-86, and Nelson’s efforts in the 1982-83 and 1984-85 seasons won him NBA coach of the year honors.
Golden State (9-7) missed its chance to give Nelson his historic victory Wednesday night, when it lost 108-106 to Indiana on a last-second 3-pointer by Stephen Jackson.
“The Force must have been with them tonight,” Nelson said. “I’m not disappointed with how we played. The plays we ran, we scored on. If you look at the numbers, we should have run away with this game.”
The Warriors, who led by four late in the game, shot 51.1 percent from the field and got 24 points and nine assists from Baron Davis, but still couldn’t overcome the Pacers.
Davis appears to be healthy again after missing four recent games due to a strained ribcage muscle. He is averaging 21.0 points and 8.0 assists per game— both team highs.
He’s getting help from second-year guard Monta Ellis, who had 27 points against Indiana and is averaging 18.3 points this season.
The Warriors are expected to have swingman Jason Richardson in the lineup Saturday. Richardson played just seven minutes and scored two points Wednesday after experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
After Saturday, the Warriors will play nine of their next 12 games on the road.
Milwaukee (5-10) shot better than 50 percent from the field for the second straight game and scored its most points of the season on Friday, but also allowed its most points of 2006-07 and lost 122-116 at Phoenix.
Michael Redd had 37 points and point guard Mo Williams added a season-high 31 and 10 rebounds. Redd, who had scored 45 points in a 109-105 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, was 12-for-20 from the field and made 12 of 15 free throws against the Suns.
“I’m trying to mix my game up,” Redd said. “I’m really trying to attack the rim, get to the free throw line, and it opens up my jump shot. When you’ve got both of those clicking, it’s pretty tough to guard.”
With Redd and Williams leading the way, the Bucks offense has started to click, averaging 105.2 points over the last four games. However, the defense has struggled, allowing 112.6 points in the last three games and 104.1 on the season.
The teams split two meetings last season, with the road team winning each matchup.