TORONTO - George Karl found peace and contentment in recording a coaching milestone.
Karl earned his 1,000th coaching victory, as Al Harrington scored a season-high 31 points, and Nene added 26 to help the Denver Nuggets hold off the Toronto Raptors 123-116 on Friday night.
The seventh coach in NBA history with 1,000 wins, Karl also notched his 900th in Toronto, a 114-107 victory on Dec. 31, 2008. He shook hands with spectators as fans next to the Nuggets’ bench bowed to him in the final seconds of the game. He was hugged by Denver’s players and assistant coaches at the final buzzer.
Karl, who coached the Seattle SuperSonics from 1992-98, said he shared a moment of “peacefulness and contentment” with his team inside the locker room.
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“I just felt together with them, I felt connected with them,” Karl said. “A lot of times during an NBA season, the coach and players aren’t really connected, they’re fighting a lot. This was a moment, not only on the court but in the locker room afterwards, there was a great connection.”
Chauncey Billups called it “a moment that you’ll never forget.”
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve played for,” Billups said.
Karl survived prostate cancer in 2005 and was treated for neck and throat cancer earlier this year, missing the end of last season while undergoing treatment.
Bulls hold off Lakers: Derrick Rose had 29 points and nine assists, and Chicago held off a late rally by Los Angeles to beat the Lakers, 88-84, and match a season best with its fourth straight victory. The Bulls hit eight 3-pointers, three by Rose, who made the shot a key part of his game during the offseason. The 84 points marked a season low for the Lakers.
Portland wins fourth in row: Marcus Camby had 16 points and 18 rebounds, Brandon Roy added 26 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Phoenix Suns, 101-94, for their fourth straight win. The Blazers, one of the NBA’s worst-shooting teams, shot 64 percent in the first half and led by as many as 17 to win their third straight over Phoenix, which knocked Portland out of the playoffs last season.
Fastbreaks: Denver forward Carmelo Anthony missed his second straight game with a sore right knee. ... John Wall returned to the Wizards’ starting lineup after missing seven of their first 21 games with foot and knee injuries. ... The Kings say reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans will be able to play though an inflamed arch on his left foot. ... Jazz guard Raja Bell missed Utah’s game against the Orlando Magic with a strained abductor muscle.