Record on hold: Nelson, Warriors fall to Wizards
WASHINGTON (AP)—Instead of counting victories, Don Nelson was counting a dwindling number of healthy players. The NBA record for most coaching wins would have to wait.
Nelson fell way short in his first attempt at passing Lenny Wilkens on Tuesday night. His Golden State Warriors fell behind by double digits before the game was 3 minutes old and went on to lose 112-94 to the Washington Wizards.
“Not a very good effort,” Nelson said, “but when we start running out of bodies … I wish I could’ve rested some guys more, but you’ve got to have five guys on the court at all times. If I could’ve got away with three, I would’ve done it.”
Ronny Turiaf(notes) and Monta Ellis(notes) missed the game with the flu. C.J. Watson(notes) sat out with sore ribs. Chris Hunter(notes), wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, started and played more minutes than in his last three games combined. Stephen Curry(notes) jammed his right shoulder on the first play of the game trying to set a screen, but he kept playing and scored 27 points before sitting for good early in the fourth quarter.
Curry said he’ll be fine and ready to go for Nelson’s next chance at victory No. 1,333 on Wednesday night at Minnesota.
The scene was quite a contrast from Sunday night, when Nelson’s players danced in a circle around the coach after he tied Wilkens with a 113-112 win over the Toronto Raptors. Against the Wizards, all the Warriors did was position themselves for more pingpong balls in the draft lottery.
“We thought we could have kept that momentum that we got in Toronto and did something with it,” Curry said, “but they jumped all over us.”
The Wizards have been just as bad as the Warriors—the teams entered the game with identical 23-53 records—but on this night they could do virtually whatever they wanted against an undersized team. Nick Young(notes) scored a season-high 29 points, JaVale McGee(notes) set career highs with 25 points and 15 rebounds, Shaun Livingston(notes) matched a career-high with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting, and Andray Blatche(notes) added 21 points, giving the Wizards four 20-point scorers for the first time since December 2007.
“It’s like (facing) a 6-8 and under team,” Livingston said, “we did what we were supposed to do.”
The Wizards took a 15-2 lead and never looked back, setting season highs for points in the first quarter (40) and first half (68). They shot 52 percent, scored 52 points in the paint and outrebounded the Warriors 35-15 in the first half and 52-31 for the game. Washington has won three of four, including two straight for the first time since mid-February.
“What’s that? We’ve won three out of four is it?” Blatche said. “It feels good to win three out of four, I ain’t going to lie, man, to go out there and play with energy, effort. We’re all playing with a meaning now.”
The Warriors had won two straight to get Nelson even with Wilkens, and another victory would have given them their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“We’re a little tired,” Nelson said. “I changed up on them, took them to the White House today. That’s a lot of walking, standing around, but I still think it was a good thing for those guys to experience. If that had something to do with our demise tonight, I would accept that responsibility. I still think it was a good thing to do.”
Notes: Maybe it was for the best that Nelson didn’t break the record. The setting was hardly one for a historic moment, with the Verizon Center about two-thirds empty at tipoff before the crowd grew to an announced attendance of 14,721. … President Barack Obama happened to be home when the Warriors visited the White House. “Didn’t get a chance to chat with him, but we saw him. He was out sunning around noon and reading. … My wife supported Obama and worked for him and set it up,” Nelson said. … McGee is the first Wizards player to get 25 and 15 off the bench since Dan Roundfield had 29 and 16 against Atlanta on April 4, 1986.