Can't win for winning, so Nuggets should lose

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Here's a bit of advice to the Denver Nuggets: Just lose it.

All season, the Nuggets have been awful. Beyond awful. And everyone had just assumed that they'd finish the season with nine wins or less, tying or beating the season of futility of the Philadelphia 76ers team that went 9-72 in 1972-73.

But with a win over the Washington Wizards last week, the Nuggets had won three of four games. They nearly made it four of five, finally losing by one in overtime to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday. And suddenly, with 14 games remaining, the Nuggets have a chance to record double-digit wins, which would make them simply another bad team. No different from, say, the Golden State Warriors or the Los Angeles Clippers.

The alternative is much more appealing. Nine wins or fewer makes the Nuggets part of history. And in the future, when another bad team suffers through winning just five games during the first half of a season, current Nuggets like Bobby Jackson, Johnny Newman and Dean Garrett can get their moment in the spotlight reflecting on what it was like to experience the worst season ever. Who knows, there might even be a movie deal.

Hey, it's just a thought, guys. Think of the fame and of your place in history. Nobody knows who you guys are now -- if you set the record, everyone will know your name.

Sounds appealing, doesn't it? Sure it does. So after a season of internal sniping and double-digit losing streaks, don't talk now about turning the season around now. It can't be turned around, not when your town's NFL team had more wins than you do.

So take my advice: Just lose it.

Seikaly vs. Magic

Where did all of this bad blood between New Jersey Nets center Rony Seikaly and the Orlando Magic come from?

Seikaly, who was traded from the Magic to New Jersey just before the trading deadline, had harsh words for Orlando assistant Brendan Suhr and Magic center Danny Schayes on the eve of Thursday's meeting between the teams. Seikaly said he has been criticized by Suhr (for being selfish and soft with Orlando), and took offense to a remark made by Schayes that Orlando is a better team without Seikaly. He blew up during interviews with media from New Jersey and Orlando.

"Brendan Suhr. You talk about cancer," said Seikaly, who played his first game with New Jersey last week. "He talks about Chuck [Daly, the coach] to me, [assistant] Tom Sterner, then Penny [Hardaway], then Danny Schayes to me, and he goes down the line killing everybody and abusing everybody.

"Then he goes to the same guys and kills the other guys. He just feeds you whatever you want to hear, and then he goes to the next guy and kills you. How can you have an assistant coach doing this stuff?"

Suhr's response: "I never get disappointed. I only get disappointed if my two children don't like me."

Thought that was harsh? Here's what Seikaly said about Schayes: "I don't know how Danny can say something like that. Has he ever watched film of himself play? Is he taking drugs? The only rebounds he gets are the ones that fall into his hands. He's been in the league 18 years, and no one else sees his game the way he does.

"Danny Schayes must look at basketball the way he looks at his clothes. He comes to the games in a powder-blue suit trying to match his wife's clothes, and he thinks that looks good. He sees his basketball the same way."

Ouch. There's no report what Mrs. Schayes wore during Friday's game in Orlando against Portland.

Around the league

Is anyone else tired of Karl Malone's whining? First the All-Star forward threatens to carry a gun at all time. Then he criticizes Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and teammate Greg Ostertag during an ESPN interview. And this week Malone starts moaning after getting accidentally raked across the eyes by Charlotte Hornets guard David Wesley.

"He didn't even go after the ball," Malone said after his team was routed by Charlotte. "I'll throw that one in my memory banks. That's all."

We're sure Malone, who only has a nine-inch, 55-pound edge on Wesley, will come back with a vengeance next season. Had he only showed that much toughness during last year's NBA Finals, maybe the Jazz would be looking to repeat as champions now.

The Chicago Bulls are 8-1 with Dennis Rodman, 6 feet 7, starting at center in place of the injured Luc Longley. With Rodman at center and Toni Kukoc, 6-10, at power forward, the Bulls are a better offensive team.

"It gives us more speed and quickness," said Bulls reserve guard Steve Kerr. "With Luc and Dennis, we'll pound the ball inside more. With Dennis and Toni, it spreads the floor and gives us four guys who can handle the ball and score while [Rodman] is going to grab every rebound. It's nice to have both options."

Said Scottie Pippen: "Nothing against Luc, but I feel very comfortable with Dennis playing the center position. We're just a much quicker team. Our offense runs quicker, and we have more lanes to take the ball to the basket."

The Dallas Mavericks, with a win over the Chicago Bulls on March 12, are 4-2 against the Indiana Pacers (1-1), Bulls (1-1) and Seattle SuperSonics (2-0) this season. Against the rest of the league, the Mavericks are 12-50 after a loss to the Rockets last night.

Think the Minnesota Timberwolves haven't missed Tom Gugliotta (bone spurs, right ankle; out for the season)? The Timberwolves had lost 10 of 14 before getting on track last night in a win over the Vancouver Grizzlies.

Since Gugliotta went down, the Timberwolves are 11-16. Minnesota was 24-17 before the injury. And since the All-Star break, Minnesota is 9-13 but has beaten just one winning team.

Is Clyde Drexler walking away from millions to coach his alma mater, the University of Houston? Of is he simply accepting the deal to avoid the embarrassment of not being offered a contract with the Houston Rockets and possibly taking a massive pay cut from another team?

Although no one has admitted it publicly, his teammates are apparently happy that Drexler -- who has feuded with Charles Barkley this season -- won't be back.

Drexler will make a base salary of $150,000 as coach. There's no truth to the rumor he'll be taking a pay cut from his playing days there.

The return of Seikaly, Jayson Williams and Keith Van Horn to the lineup comes at an ideal time for New Jersey. The Nets had slipped to the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference standings but, thanks in part to the up-and-down Washington Wizards' losing to Denver, New Jersey had the eighth spot by week's end.

New Jersey can gain some ground this week, as the Wizards play a killer five-game trip against the Nets, Seattle, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and Lakers.

Quotable

"Tomorrow. But with the time difference, I might have already played."

-- The Nets' Williams, when asked Wednesday by a Japanese radio station whether he would play the next night.

Jerry Bembry's power rankings

Top 10

1. Chicago (2): Starters playing a lot of minutes

2. Seattle (3): Won five straight before falling to Lakers (Friday) and Suns (last night)

3. Miami (4): Riley rips Hardaway and Mourning after loss to Detroit

4. L.A. Lakers (5): Struggling Bryant scoreless Monday vs. Seattle

5. Charlotte (6): Looked great in Wednesday blowout of Utah

6. Utah (1): Ostertag is back

7. San Antonio (7): Duncan has 46 double doubles

8. Atlanta (9): 5-1 in overtime games

9. Indiana (8): Lost showdown with Bulls

10. Phoenix (10): Lost showdown with Lakers

Bottom 5

25. Dallas: Lost Ceballos (knee) for season

26. Golden State: Is 6-36 in games decided by 10 or more

27. Toronto: Beat the Nuggets

28. L.A. Clippers: Fitch tossed on St. Patrick's Day vs. Golden State

29. Denver: Needs just two more victories to surpass NBA record-low for wins

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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