Warriors beat Clips, Nelson 2 wins behind Wilkens
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The only drama left in the Golden State Warriors’ dismal season is whether there will be enough time for Don Nelson to overtake Lenny Wilkens as the winningest coach in NBA history during the regular season.
Golden State’s 121-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night put Nelson within three victories of surpassing Wilkens’ total of 1,332. And his players appear more consumed with getting it for him now, instead of making him wait an entire summer to do it.
“Lenny Wilkens has been my idol ever since I’ve been coaching,” Nelson said. “It’s quite an honor, really, to be talked about at the same number that he has. So if I get the chance to bypass him, it’ll be quite an honor. If it happens, fine. If it doesn’t happen, that’s fine as well.”
The Warriors have nine chances left on the schedule, with four of them against New York, Washington, Minnesota and the Clippers—a combined 115 games under .500.
“It might not be important to Don, but it’s important to us,” forward Corey Maggette(notes) said. “We’re just trying to play these games out as best we can and hopefully get the record for him. I know our guys are very conscious of it.”
Rookie Reggie Williams(notes) scored 25 points in his second NBA start. He got the nod because leading scorer Monta Ellis(notes) continued to have the flulike symptoms which have hampered him all week. Williams played 42 minutes, getting seven assists and six rebounds in his 15th game with the club.
Williams is one of five players Golden State brought in from the NBA’s Development League this season, along with Anthony Tolliver(notes), Chris Hunter(notes), Cartier Martin(notes) and Coby Karl(notes).
“I came here with the attitude that I have nothing to lose. The worst-case scenario is that I get sent back down,” Williams said. “The D-League has been very important because it’s given us a chance to showcase our skills and develop our game enough to get to this level.”
Nelson is delighted with how Williams has performed to this point.
“He’s a special player—and here we got him out of the rock heap,” Nelson said. “I think he has a gift, and he doesn’t even know how big a gift he has. We’ve just dusted off the surface. As far as I can see, he’s a rare basketball player because he’s able to have the mental capacity to understand the total game and who’s open.
“He can read defenses and score, he’s quick, and he’s unselfish. I think I’ll be able to do a lot of things with him as we go along. That’s why I’m so happy that we signed him for next year.”
Tolliver, a second-year forward, had 19 points and six rebounds against the Clippers—one night after grabbing a career-high 21 boards in a 111-90 home loss against Dallas.
“I’m so proud of the D-League guys who continually play well,” Nelson said.
Rookie Stephen Curry(notes) had 18 points and seven assists for Golden State during a foul-plagued 40 minutes. Maggette had 17 points. The Warriors, who came in averaging a league-best 17.7 forced turnovers and 21.4 points off turnovers, converted 20 Los Angeles turnovers into 26 points.
“Golden State can do that to you,” Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes said. “They can trick you into playing a ragtag game, which they are very adept at. We really went to pieces. I don’t know if it was just a bad combination of guys, or whether we didn’t guard, or whether their speed shocked us.”
Rasual Butler(notes) scored 21 points and Eric Gordon(notes) added 20 for the Clippers, who have lost 11 of their last 13. They have to go 6-3 the rest of the way to avoid—or at least postpone—their 18th 50-loss season in Los Angeles. Baron Davis(notes) had 18 points and seven assists against his former team.
Golden State outscored Los Angeles 25-4 during a 6-minute span of the second quarter to turn a nine-point deficit into a 54-42 lead with 4:56 left in the half. Curry helped fuel the rally with a pair of 3-pointers, and Hunter added a couple of tip-in baskets after missed shots.
NOTES: Wilkens had 80 wins in the playoffs, five more than Nelson. … The Clippers are 3-11 this month with two games remaining. This is the 60th time they have had 10 or more losses in a month since the franchise moved from San Diego to Los Angeles for the 1984-85 season—and the 17th time they’ve reached double digits in March. … Davis averaged 20.1 points and 8.1 assists during his three-plus seasons with the Warriors. In 136 games with the Clippers, he’s averaging 15.1 points and 7.8 assists.