With his team enduring a difficult season, Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson said he’s appreciated every win.
He will likely cherish the next one a little more.
Nelson will try to earn an NBA-record 1,333rd victory and lead Golden State to a season-high third straight win Tuesday night against the host Washington Wizards.
Unless they win out, the Warriors (23-53) will record their worst finish since going 21-61 in 2001-02, but Nelson’s chase to break Lenny Wilkens’ league record for coaching victories has proved a pleasant distraction.
Nelson’s players have responded with their best run of the season, going 4-2 since March 23. Golden State has won two of three on the road after losing 30 of its first 34.
The Warriors’ latest road victory, 113-112 over Toronto on Sunday, upped Nelson’s record to 1,332-1,060 in 31 seasons and gave him a share of the wins record with Wilkens.
“You sure appreciate getting a win when you go through a year like we’ve been through where it’s been so hard to win games,” Nelson said. “This was special for me.”
Nelson’s club has won consecutive games four times this season but hasn’t won three in a row since April 2009.
The Wizards (23-53) also have labored through a difficult season, and the past month has included a franchise-record 16-game losing streak. Washington, however, has won two of three since that skid and is coming off Sunday’s 109-99 victory over New Jersey.
The Wizards won 118-109 at Golden State on Dec. 18, but all four Washington players who scored in double figures are no longer on the active roster.
Caron Butler(notes), Antawn Jamison(notes) and Brendan Haywood(notes) have been traded, and Gilbert Arenas(notes), who had a season-high 45 points, was suspended for the season in January for bringing guns into the team’s locker room.
Andray Blatche(notes) has tried to make up for those absences by averaging 22.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26 consecutive starts, but he also stirred up controversy when he chose not to re-enter a 95-86 overtime loss in Charlotte on March 23.
Blatche has put that behind him with at least 18 points in seven straight games, and he finished one rebound shy of his first career triple-double Sunday with 20 points and a career-high 13 assists. He has broken or tied his personal best for assists four times in the past six games.
“He has the ability to pass,” coach Flip Saunders told the team’s official Web site. “We’ve been trying to drill with him the idea that if you do that, it becomes easier for you offensively when you open up other people.”
Blatche had 25 points and 12 rebounds to help Washington to a 124-100 victory over Golden State last season at the Verizon Center.
The Wizards have won three of the last four meetings there.