<
>

Nuggets hope they're not first 50-win team to miss playoffs

The Denver Nuggets are closing in on their preseason team goal of 50 wins. But if things don't go their way, they could also make NBA history as the first 50-win team to miss the playoffs.

No NBA team has reached the 50-win mark and not advanced to the playoffs. But in the highly-competitive Western Conference, the Nuggets, or some other unlucky team, could become the first.

"I've never seen anything like it. I call it the Halley's Comet year of the NBA," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Once every 99 years something like this happens. Why I have to be a part of it, I want to know why."

The Nuggets are 40-28 with 14 games left and 2½ games behind the Golden State Warriors (42-25) for the eighth and last spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

"We're on the outside looking in right now," Karl said Friday. "But if we win 10 or 11 of our last 14, which I think we're capable of doing, we've got to make the other people worry."

The top end of the conference race is also a dogfight, with three teams -- New Orleans, Houston and Phoenix -- within one game of the Los Angeles Lakers (47-21) for the top spot.

"History says that [50] will get us into the playoffs. I'm not sure it will get us to the playoffs," said Karl. "There are days I'm nervous it won't get us in, but to throw more than that out there, you're pushing the power of our positive thinking.

"We've got to do what we're capable of doing. I think 50 would be at the top end of that," added Karl, who in 20 seasons of NBA coaching has taken three different teams to division titles, including the Nuggets in 2005-06 with 44 wins.

"It would be a high level of success but it might not be a high level of success from a playoff standpoint. That's the sadness of what we're dealing with."

Reuters contributed to this report.