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The 13 Longest Losing Streaks in NBA History

by: Esteban On  Wednesday, March 12, 2014

longest nba losing streaks

Last March, all NBA fans were talking about was the Miami Heat winning streak. This March, however, is being dominated by a losing streak.

In case you have not noticed, the sad Philadelphia 76ers have not won a basketball game since January 29 at Boston, which means they’ve now lost 17 consecutive games. Where does the this string of losses rank amongst the all-time longest NBA losing streaks? Well, I don’t want to give the list away before we even get started, but let’s just say a loss tonight to Sacramento will put the Sixers in historic territory they’d rather not explore.

If you want to explore this territory from the comfort of your own couch or office chair, however, click on those arrows. They’ll give you a run-down of the most embarrassing losing steaks the NBA has ever seen.

13. 1981-82 Utah Jazz: 18 Games

13 1981-82 Utah Jazz - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 25-57

The 1981-82 Utah Jazz were led by Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley, who averaged an impressive 30.3 points per game that year, which was good for third in the league. They also had Darrell Griffith, who averaged a solid 19.8 points per game. So it’s not like they were completely devoid of talent.

Unfortunately, having two guys average a combined 50.1 points per game doesn’t help you very much when your team has the second-worst defense in the league. Thus, between February 23 when they beat the Bullets and April 2 when they beat the Kings, the Jazz didn’t win a single game.

 

12. 2006-07 Boston Celtics: 18 Games

12 2006-07 Boston Celtics - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 24-58

Remember when the Boston Celtics rocked the basketball world by trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett prior to the 2007-08 season? Well, that probably wouldn’t have happened if, during the previous season, the Celtics hadn’t experienced the darkest, most humiliating period of their proud history.

First Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach passed away. Then they opened the 2006-07 season with seven straight losses. Then they lost Paul Pierce to a stress fracture. And then they lost 18 games in a row from January 7 to February 11.

Of course, the next year the Celtics were NBA champions.

 

11. 2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats: 18 Games

11 2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats - longest NBA losing streaks

Season Record: 21-61

It’s not surprising to find the Charlotte Bobcats on this list. What is surprising is that they only appear once.

The Cats began the 2012-13 season by actually winning seven of their first 12 games, leading people to believe that, just maybe, their historically putrid 2011-12 campaign was a fluke. Then, starting with a loss to the Thunder on November 26, Charlotte rattled off 18 consecutive losses, proving to everyone they were the real (crappy) deal.

 

 

10. 2003-04 Orlando Magic: 19 Games

10 2003-04 Orlando Magic - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 21-61

Coached by Doc Rivers for the first 11 games of the 2003-04 season, the Orlando Magic didn’t waste any time getting down to the business of losing. After winning their very first game against the Knicks that year, they went on to lose their next 19 games, which means their winning percentage one quarter through the season was .050, which is insane.

Of course, as you can see, the Magic actually “turned things around” (relatively speaking) after ending the streak, going 20-42 the rest of the way.

 

9. 1988-89 Los Angeles Clippers: 19 Games

9 1988-89 Los Angeles Clippers Danny Manning - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 21-61

The 1988-89 Clippers finished with a 21-61 record, just like the 2003-04 Orlando Magic, and they too replaced their head coach. So you might be wondering what makes their 19-game losing streak worse.

Well, I’ll tell you what makes their 19-game losing streak worse: defeats of 35, 34, 35, 23, 21, 19, 21, and 29 points

Of course, if there was one team worse than the 1988-89 Clippers, it was the 1981-82 Clippers…

8. 1981-82 San Diego Clippers: 19 Games

8 1981-82 Los Angeles Clippers - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 17-65

Through the first 62 games of the 1981-82 season, the Clippers were 16-46, which was bad, but not historically bad. Then they proceeded to lose the first 19 of their final 20 games before finally winning their last game of the season.

Of course, for most franchises this would be the low-point of their history. However, this is the Clippers we’re talking about. They have won as few as 17 games (in non-shortened seasons) four times since then.

 

7. 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies: 19 Games

7 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 15-67

How bad were the Vancouver Grizzlies in their first ever NBA season? So bad that losing 19 games in a row from November 7 through December 13 (19 of their first 21 games) wasn’t even the low-point of their season.

What was the low-point of their season? Keep reading. You’ll find out soon enough.

 

6. 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks: 19 Games

6 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 11-71

From 1992 to 1994, the Dallas Mavericks put together one of the most futile runs in the history of the NBA, winning just 24 of their 164. That’s a two-season winning percentage of .146, which is mind-boggling.

How’d they do it? Well, losing 19 games in a row from February 6 to March 15, 1993, certainly helped. And so did another epic losing streak the following season…

 

5. 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks: 20 Games

5 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 13-69

That’s right. One season after the Mavs went 11-71 and posted a 19-game losing streak, they went 13-69 and posted a 20-game losing streak. And what’s really amazing is that simply saying they had a 20-game losing streak doesn’t even tell the whole story. The 1993-94 Mavericks lost their first three games, then won a game, then lost 20 in a row. Then they won one more game before losing another mind-blowing 16 games in a row.

That all adds up to a 2-36 start to the season, which…um…wow.

 

4. 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers: 20 Games

4 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 9-73

The 2013-14 Sixers may get into the record books for their epic losing streak, but they’ll never be as bad at the 1972-73 Sixers. Those guys had losing streaks of 15, 14, 13, and, of course, 20 games, and their nine total wins is almost unfathomable.

 

3. 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies: 23 Games

3 1995 Vancouver Grizzlies - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 15-67

Remember when I said the Grizzlies’ 19-game losing streak was not the low-point of their inaugural season? Well, that was because they also set what was then an NBA record by losing 23 games in a row from February 16 to April 2.

On the bright side, though, the Grizzlies did finish the season the season the same way they started it—with two straight wins.

 

2. 1997-98 Denver Nuggets: 23 Games

2 1997-98 Denver Nuggets - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 11-71

After starting the 1997-98 season with 12 straight losses, the Denver Nuggets probably figured the worst was behind them. However, as with so many other teams on this list, it turned out that the worst was yet to come. After winning games on November 28 and December 7 to bring their record to 2-15, Denver lost 23 straight games from December 9 to January 23, tying the all-time record set by the Grizzlies just two years earlier.

Luckily, on January 24, 1998, the Nuggets got to play the Clippers, whom they beat 99-81 to end the streak.

 

1. 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers: 26 Games

1 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers - longest NBA losing Streaks

Season Record: 19-63

Everyone expected the Cavaliers to be pretty terrible the year after LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. However, thought it was going to be this bad.

From November 30 to December 17, the Cavs lost 10 straight games. Then they won a game. And then they lost an NBA-record 26 games in a row from December 20 to February 9.

How’d the streak end? With a 126-119 overtime win over the Clippers.

 




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