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[UPDATED] The quest for 50 wins remains intact (for now)...

The Nuggets survived one of their toughest three game stretches of the season, finishing an admirable 1-2 against the Kings Practice Squad, the "Super"sonics and the Clippers, whom they whacked tonight 117-99.

Alright, enough with the sarcasm.

As mentioned ad nauseum on this blog, I attended tonight's game at Staples Center and sat about 13 rows up from the Nuggets bench. I tried desperately to gather some insight into why the Nuggets struggle defensively overall and offensively in a halfcourt set, but this wasn't the game to observe any struggles whatsoever.

The Nuggets finally did what they're supposed to do against underhanded and playing-for-nothing teams like the Clippers: they beat them wall to wall and on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately for us Nuggets fans, it took two losses prior to tonight's win for the team to figure out how to beat already bad teams made worse by missing key personnel.

Since I don't usually sit this close to the Nuggets bench (at Pepsi Center I often sit behind the visitors bench), here a few things I observed from my vantage point. Please take this with a grain of salt considering this was a walkover game, and I don't present any of these tidbits as representative of the entire season...

-Contrary to what some members of the national media have made up about them, there seems to be a genuine camaraderie among the Nuggets players both on the floor and on the bench. For example, no one rolled their eyes when Carmelo shot a few turnaround jumpers over two defenders with no rebounders underneath.

-Owner Stanley Kroenke and at least two of his three GMs (Bret Bearup and Rex Chapman) accompanied the team and hung out around the players during pregame warmups. Kroenke spent most of the warmups chatting it up with the all-time-best NBA fan Jimmy Goldstein, and I hope for Kroenke's sake he wasn't getting fashion advice.

-Head coach George Karl's son Coby - who plays for the Lakers - got to sit in the very first row behind the Nuggets bench, which must have been cool for both him and his dad.

-To Karl's credit, when he pulled the core players for the scrubs with five minutes to go, he didn't embarrass veteran Chucky Atkins by putting him on the floor, even though Chucky would get yet another DNP-CD. Does anyone besides me find it ironic that Karl used Atkins' injury as an excuse for the Nuggets shortcomings all season, and yet he never plays him anymore? Or is Atkins hurt and we just don't know about it?

-And finally (and much to my surprise) Coach Karl actually worked the refs in the first half, but with the following caveat: they had to be standing right in front of him.

But most unfortunately, after the results of two other games tonight I fear the Nuggets will not make the playoffs. Remarkably, both Dallas and Golden State were able to beat the "Super"sonics and Kings Practice Squad, respectively. I didn't think the Mavericks and Warriors had it in them against such challenging opponents, but somehow, someway they were able to pull off what the Nuggets could not.

If you assume - as I do - that the Mavericks and Nuggets will win two out of their last four games, and the Warriors will take three out of their last four, then the Nuggets will fall one victory short of 50 wins and miss the playoffs by a game. Of course, I'm the guy who told you the Nuggets would beat Sacramento and Seattle over the weekend, so what do I know anyway?

[UPDATED] As cool as I thought I was sitting 13 rows up, AOL Fanhouse's Brett Edwards got to sit courtside AND interview Carmelo after the game. Be sure to check out his recap and interview: