Nelson looks for 1,200th career coaching victory
November 29, 2006 6:31pm CST
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Don Nelson had no interest in discussing another milestone he's about to add to his coaching resume. On Wednesday night, he could become only the second coach in NBA history to reach 1,200 victories when his Golden State Warriors host the Indiana Pacers. Lenny Wilkens has the career record for wins with 1,332. "I guess you jinxed that," Nelson said Tuesday after a Warriors staff member brought up the fact he could do it by month's end. "I don't want to talk about that. Let's talk about something else." Well, does he think he can catch Wilkens? "I'll try not to. I don't want it," Nelson said. "I hope I retire before that ever happens. I'm a happy guy right where I am." So are his Golden State bosses. Nelson's team is 9-6 and coming off impressive victories over Utah and San Antonio -- two of the NBA's elite organizations -- in a three-day span. The Warriors haven't reached the playoffs in an NBA-worst 12 years, since Nelson last took this franchise to the postseason in 1994 during his first stint as coach. But there is hope in the East Bay again after years of disappointment and losing. For now, Nelson is focused not on counting his victory total but getting his young squad to keep playing well. He is brutally honest when it comes to his players, and it's something they seem to appreciate so far. At least they know there's no wondering what the coach is thinking. The 66-year-old Nelson, hired Aug. 30 in a surprise move to replace Mike Montgomery, has shown he isn't going to defend his athletes at all times. Fifth-year pro Mike Dunleavy, the third overall pick by the Warriors in the 2002 draft out of Duke who has greatly underachieved, is frequently booed by fans frustrated with his lack of contribution. "A lot of it is his own fault," Nelson said. "He needs to step up and do more. I mean, I have the same problem the fans do. I'm not booing him, but I've thought about it a few times. He's got to get tougher. If that's what it takes (booing), that's what it takes." And how does Nelson feel about Matt Barnes, who filled in nicely while guard Mickael Pietrus sat out the last two games with the flu? Barnes is averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.67 blocks over his last three games. "I get mad at him because he always has to do something sensational and it doesn't ever really work out," Nelson said. "If they can make the play, it's one thing. He's like 0-for-10 on sensational." And Nelson told 21-year-old guard Monta Ellis on Monday night that he had better start playing if the Warriors were going to beat the Spurs. Ellis scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter of a 111-102 win, with Nelson saying Tuesday that Ellis slept through the first three periods. Whatever works, the players say of Nelson's methods. They are winning, so Nellie has to be doing something right. "He's our legend. Legend Nelson," Pietrus said. Nelson stressed to his team Tuesday not to get too high after these last two wins against Western Conference powers. It's still early and Golden State will have played a franchise-record 12 home games in November, the Warriors' most ever in one month. "I worry about everything with a young team," Nelson said. "There isn't anything I don't worry about. I told them today, 'Don't get too full of ourselves. The Force was with us the last two games."' Nelson said point guard Baron Davis' status for Wednesday would be a game-time decision depending how his tender right ribs feel. He has missed three straight games and four of five.