Don Nelson has lost 1,061 games in his coaching career, or roughly as many as Kurt Rambis has lost this season with the Wolves.
OK, it only feels that way sometimes. But Wednesday's loss was a particularly painful one because Golden State was so depleted. Only eight players were available, one of them (Ronny Turiaf) was getting over the flu, and the Warriors, playing their third road game in four nights, had just sleep-walked through a bad loss in Washington 24 hours earlier. The Wolves, meanwhile, hadn't played since Saturday.
But it was Golden State that looked like it had the fresh legs most of the night. Since they were shorthanded, they didn't fast-break as much as usual -- actually, the Wolves outscored them on the run, 17-9 -- but the Warriors had little trouble moving around without the ball, shedding defenders and finding wide-open shots. They made an incredible 61 percent of them through the first three periods, which explains the 27-point lead.
You can say "they just made shots," and the Wolves say that a lot, but Corey Brewer stuck the blame on the home team. "We have to change a whole lot about the way we play defense. Last few games, we haven't played any good defense," the Wolves' defensive specialist said. "For us to win, we have to get stops, and we didn't get any. We scored a hundred points, but with no stops, you lose."
All five Wolves starters scored at least 16 points, so Minnesota did a good job of filling the void left by Al Jefferson's absence for a family matter. But the Warriors, who start two D League refugees, keep the offensive pressure on, and the Wolves just don't have the drive to stop them.
They finally fought back in the fourth quarter to make it mildly interesting, forcing a remarkable eight Golden State turnovers. They couldn't finish off the comeback, though, and now have only one realistic shot to avoid tying the franchise record for most losses in a season. Their next three games -- at home against the Lakers (which espn.com called "a scrimmage"), at New Orleans and at San Antonio -- don't look promising, so the season finale next Wednesday against the 25-53 Pistons could determine whether they chalk up record-tying loss No. 67.
A few more points about a historic night in NBA history:
-- Kevin Love sure seemed energized by his first start since Jan. 23, going off for 17 points and 18 rebounds. Sure, the Warriors don't exactly have a lot of size in the middle to challenge him, but it was still an impressive, energetic performance. Hard to know whether being in the lineup was all it took to super-charge Love's game, but it didn't feel like a coincidence.
-- What are we to make of the effectiveness of Chris Hunter, Reggie Williams and especially Anthony Tolliver? All three guys were in the D League three months ago, but all three looked like serviceable NBA players, and in Tolliver's case, a potential regular. C'mon, he scored 34 points. Know how many Wolves have done that this season? One: Jefferson had 36 against the Mavs last month. The point is, it's obvious that there is legitimate talent to be found out there, and it seems odd that a 15-win team has never been interested in investigating that talent pool.
-- The Wolves are now 0-5 this season without Al Jefferson, who could return to the team in time for Thursday's practice.
-- Eight of the nine Wolves who played recorded an assist, led by Jonny Flynn's eight (which he unfortunately offset with six turnovers). Darko Milicic, shaking off the effects of a mild concussion, had four assists to go with seven rebounds and 16 points. The only player without an assist: Sasha Pavlovic, who played 11 minutes, had one rebound and made one of three shots.
-- As I wrote in the game story, Nelson's relatives made up a sizable portion of the skimpy Target Center crowd. His wife Joy, his daughter Katie and five grandchildren were in the stands, and it was funny to observe how much more excited the family was about the record-breaking win than Nelson was.
"It's pretty hard to imagine that he's got more (wins) than anybody ever has in all the years of the NBA," said 12-year-old Isaac Nagel, who plays junior-high ball in Minnetonka.
"It's such a thrill that we're here to celebrate with him," said his mother Katie Nagel, whose birth was announced on national TV during a Celtics game in Nelson's playing days. She grew up in Milwaukee when Nelson got the Bucks' coaching job a month into the 1976 season and moved to the Minneapolis suburbs with her husband Scott 13 years ago. "I was actually hoping the Warriors would lose (Tuesday) night so he could get the record here with us."
Three Nelson grandsons -- John Olsen and twin brothers David and Andy Olsen -- were also on hand, holding up signs for "Grandpa Nellie." The Olsens are students at Bethel College in St. Paul.
-- The NBA acknowledged with unusual candor Wednesday that Kevin Durant was fouled on the final play of Oklahoma City's 140-139 loss to Utah the night before, an admission that Nelson said demonstrates the need to expand the use of replay at the end of games. "Get it right, that's the important thing," the Golden State coach said. "The idea is to get it right so you don't penalize sombdoy for a mistake."
Rambis, though, said he isn't so sure that giving referees the option to take another look at controversial plays in the final minutes of tight games is a good idea. "It just slows the game down. You'd be looking at (replays) all the time," Rambis said. "Those are critical times in ballgames, but there are so many things that go on that could change things. ... It's human error."
And would he be satisfied with a public statement if his team was victimized by such a non-call? "I don't know, you still lost the game," Rambis said. "They're not going to change it to half a loss."
-- Rambis on his team's brief utilization of a zone defense against the hot-shooting Warriors: "We tried. It confused them, it confused us."
-- PHIL MILLER