Nuggets of Hope? How Denver could win enough to escape infamy

January 26, 1998

At week's end the Denver Nuggets were 2-35--on pace to finish
with the NBA's worst record ever, 4-78. It won't be easy for the
Nuggets to avoid surpassing or at least matching the 1972-73
Philadelphia 76ers' historic mark of 9-73: On paper only a
handful of Denver's remaining games look winnable. To reach
double digits in victories, the Nuggets will need improvement
from their youngsters, some luck (such as catching an opponent
on an off night) and wins in many of the following games:

Jan. 24 (away) and March 8 (home) against the Los Angeles
Clippers. In December, Denver beat the Clips 100-92 at McNichols
Arena and lost a 105-103 heartbreaker to them in L.A. The
Nuggets have a realistic shot of splitting the season series.

Jan. 29 (home) and March 19 (away) against the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors were 6-32 through Sunday, but they had only four
victories until Jan. 10. Unlike the Nuggets, they possess an
All-Star-caliber point guard in Damon Stoudamire (the subject of
recent trade rumors). There's no truth to the rumor that fans
attending either of these games will receive the Croix de Guerre.

Jan. 31 and March 25 (home), and April 11 (away) against the
Dallas Mavericks. On Jan. 6 at Reunion Arena the Mavericks (6-32
at week's end) got their first win in more than a month by
beating Denver 108-90. The Nuggets were ahead after the first
quarter, 35-33, but then were done in by Mavericks forward
Dennis Scott's five three-pointers and 28 points. Hey, maybe if
they can shut down Scott....

Feb. 13 (home) against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets
will hope for a rerun: Denver's first win came against the
T-wolves, 95-84 on Nov. 28.

Feb. 4 and April 9 against the Sacramento Kings, and March 27
against the Golden State Warriors (all home). The Kings and
Warriors are woeful on the road, though on Dec. 26 the Warriors
did beat the Nuggets at McNichols, 81-69.

Feb. 17 against the New York Knicks and Feb. 27 against the
Philadelphia 76ers (both home). Without center Patrick Ewing,
who's out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right
wrist, the Knicks may be ripe for the taking as they open a
three-game Western swing. (Besides, New York has lost to the
Mavericks and the Raptors this season.) The erratic Sixers also
are capable of a stinker.

--DICK FRIEDMAN

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH Despite appearances, Lauderdale has not thrown in the towel. [Priest Lauderdale with head covered by towel]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)