The Denver Nuggets no longer need live in fear of being branded as the NBA’s worst team ever. One of the worst, maybe.
What once seemed impossible - posting 10 victories to avoid the disgrace of having the worst record in league history - now seems likely.
The Nuggets got win No. 9 Friday night, 97-89 over the Golden State Warriors.
That means that the Nuggets (9-63) can do no worse than equal the NBA record for futility of 9-73 set by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73.
And with four victories in their last nine games, the Nuggets appear capable of eking out at least one more win. Of their final 10 games, three are against sub-.500 teams (Milwaukee, Sacramento and Dallas).
Denver’s next game is at home Wednesday against Milwaukee.
While Nuggets coach Bill Hanzlik insisted the record was not on his mind, his players disagreed.
“It mattered to me,” rookie forward Danny Fortson said. “I ain’t lying. I didn’t want to see my face in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“This was a long tunnel we needed to get to the end of. Now we’ve just got to keep going. We’re not done yet.
“When we get No. 10, bring out the champagne, brother!”
Johnny Newman, whose 22 points led Denver over Golden State, said the Nuggets aren’t content.
“It’s not like if we get just nine or 10 wins that we’re going to be satisfied,” Newman said. “We need to get more wins.”
Two weeks ago, when the Nuggets were mired in a 16-game losing streak and were stuck on five victories, nine wins appeared unreachable.
The Nuggets’ late-season surge - if a 4-5 record can be called that - has coincided with the insertion of guard Cory Alexander into the starting lineup.
Alexander, signed by Denver on March 4 after being released by San Antonio, has proved to be a consistent playmaker and scorer.
He has teamed recently with Anthony Goldwire to give Denver a competent backcourt. Alexander and Goldwire combined to shoot .785 (11 for 14) from the floor and .667 (4 for 6) from 3-point range Friday night.
Alexander leads Denver in 3-point shooting at .414 (24 for 58). Goldwire has shot .724 (21 for 29) from the field over the past three games.