Don Nelson going for history, Thornton to return in Orlando
Warriors (23-53) at Wizards (23-53)
Wizards starters: Shaun Livingston, Mike Miller, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Fabricio Oberto
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Corey Maggette, Reggie Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Chris Hunter
Line: Warriors by 3
Don Nelson has 1,332 wins and needs one more to break Lenny Wilkens's all-time coaching wins record. But he was especially low-key moments before the Golden State Warriors tipped off against the Wizards on Tuesday. Nelson said that he was fulfilled after tying the record on Sunday in Toronto.
"If it happens, we'll talk about it after the game, but you know it was such an emotional win to tie Lenny in Toronto," Nelson said. "That was a special moment for me. I don't think we can duplicate that."
Nelson spoke with Wilkens on Monday and said he has long admired him. "He's like the perfect coach," Nelson said. "He's been very successful, humble, all the other things that you would like a guy to be. That's why I tried to emulate him, at least late in my career. I wish I had done it earlier. When I was younger, I was a pretty tough coach, pretty emotional. I tried to be less that and more Lenny Wilkens."
Coach Flip Saunders praised Nelson before the game, having faced him dozens of times over his career. "Everyone has so much respect for him because of the knowledge that he has," Saunders said. "Nellie is extremely innovative, adaptive to situations. Doesn't usually get too down when things aren't going well, even though you can look at his face and see something is wearing on him. But he doesn't get too excited when things are going well. He's a teacher of the game, that's why he's been able to develop so many players."
Saunders said what he respects most about Nelson is ability to keep moving forward. "When the game is over, he can let it go. Maybe because he's coached so many games," he said.
Wilkens became the NBA's all-time leader in coaching victories since Jan. 6, 1995, when his Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Bullets 112-90 for his 939th career victory. Now, Nelson is looking to surpass Wilkens against the Wizards.
Saunders does not want to be a part of history tonight. "I don't want him to get the record against me," he said with a laugh.
Al Thornton missed his seventh consecutive game with a strained right hip flexor, but said that he won't be out much longer. Thornton said that after going through a tough workout on Tuesday morning that he will be ready to go against Orlando. "I think I'm coming along pretty well," he said. "I'm definitely going to try to give it a go tomorrow in Orlando. Push through it and see how it feels."
Thornton said he wanted to be especially cautious with his injury. "You got to make sure you're loose, going into your warm-ups," Thornton said. "I want to be out there playing, but it's extremely difficult, because you've got to get in a stance, and the way I play, I can easily tear it. I want to make sure I'm 100 percent healed before I go out there at all. That's the reason for the delay."
Asked why he hasn't decided to just rest for the remainder of the season, Thornton said, "I want to play. I love playing basketball and I love being out there with my teammates. I know it's no chance at the playoffs, but I want to finish on a strong note."
April 6, 2010; 6:43 PM ET
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