OAKLAND -- It's too late to save whichever team fails to survive the current eighth-place Western Conference cage match, be it the Warriors or the Denver Nuggets. But Golden State coach Don Nelson wants the NBA to make sure no future team suffers such an undeserving fate as winning 47 or more games and nevertheless going home in mid-April.

"I hope the league makes some adjustments, at least talks about the issues," Nelson said. "Combine everybody and just take the top 16 teams would be probably the most fair thing. ... I think with our own (charter) airlines, (cross-country) trips aren't like they used to be. So what's the difference if you have to play the East a little more? Play everybody as (equally) as you can and take the top 16 and let's go. That's what I'd do."

If this season were being contested under those rules, the Warriors and Nuggets -- who both came in Thursday with matching 47-31 records -- would have been battling for control of 11th place, rather than merely fighting for continued existence past Wednesday. The 16th and final spot would be in the hands of either Portland or Atlanta, each of whom is 39-39.

"Well, I sure would like it now," Nuggets coach George Karl said of Nelson's plan, accentuating the final word. "It's an interesting format to put your best 16 teams out there on the court."

Playing all 29 other teams an equal amount would require three games against each opponent for a total of 87 -- or just a home-and-home set that would mean only 58 regular-season games. Karl was skeptical that the league would be willing cut regional rivalries such as the Boston-New York-Philadelphia troika in the Atlantic Division from its allotment of four games a season, but pointed to the success of Major League Baseball's addition of the wild card in 1994 as an argument in favor of change.

"Baseball, I think, was uplifted by the wild card system," Karl said. "It seems like they've gotten a higher quality of baseball on the field, and it seems like the ratings are up as well."

Unfortunately, someone often needs to be sacrificed on the altar of unfairness to prompt a move, and it looks like it'll be the Nuggets or, more likely, the Warriors filling that role.

"I figured if we would have won 46, we would have had it locked by now, and we'd be preparing ourselves for the playoffs, resting some veterans and doing those kind of things that championship teams do," Nelson said. "We don't have that luxury."

Off the glass

The Warriors broke their single-game franchise attendance record with a standing-room only crowd measured at 20,737, the team said. The previous mark of 20,713 was set March 24 against the Los Angeles Lakers. ... Warriors rookie forward Brandan Wright did not suit up because of his strained left groin. Fellow rookie guard Marco Belinelli took his place. ... Nuggets forward Nene (strained groin) was held out of action as well.

-- Geoff Lepper