CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Everything pointed to a storybook night for George Karl. Sitting at 999 NBA wins, he was back in North Carolina where he played in college. He was coaching against buddy Larry Brown.
Karl even joked before the game about missing the postgame flight to Boston to drink wine with Brown to celebrate becoming the seventh coach with 1,000 NBA wins.
Instead, Karl was slumped in a chair at the end of the night dressed in a Tar Heels sweatshirt debating a late-game decision and lamenting the end of the Denver Nuggets’ seven-game winning streak.
Stephen Jackson scored 23 points, Gerald Wallace added 20 and the Charlotte Bobcats used their big guns to build a comfortable lead before sweating out a 100-98 victory Tuesday night.
“We only come here one time a year and of course going against Larry is always a challenge,” Karl said of Brown, a member of the 1,000-win club. “It would have been something I’d have remembered if I won my 1,000th here. But hopefully we’ll get it on this trip.”
The Nuggets nearly rallied from eight points down with 90 seconds remaining. After Jackson failed to hit the rim on a 3-point attempt, the Nuggets had a chance to tie. Chauncey Billups dribbled the ball into the right corner, but his fadeaway that would have tied it bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
Karl said he was “kicking himself” over not calling a timeout after Billups grabbed Jackson’s miss.
“It was a tough number. We rebounded at 7 (seconds) or something like that,” Karl said. “The initial bust out I thought was good. At the end, we didn’t have enough guys flooding the rebound, flooding the lane and trying to make something happen. I’m sure I’ll look on film and I’ll probably think I’ll want to call timeout.”