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.