In only one year the Cleveland Cavaliers have officially gone from NBA power to cellar dweller.
Consecutive wins for the first time since early November may at least give them some hope for next season.
After clinching a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers attempt to end a five-game road losing streak when they face the struggling Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
At this time last year, Cleveland (16-61) was on its way to finishing with the best record in the league for a second consecutive season.
Mostly due to losing superstar LeBron James(notes) to Miami, the Cavaliers have followed that up by dropping to the bottom of the East. They clinched the last-place finish officially Tuesday, despite beating Charlotte 99-89 as seven players scored in double figures.
“Obviously, this was a pretty good win for us,” coach Byron Scott said. “I thought the guys really took up the challenge. We had a lot of guys play really well. I told them for 39 (minutes) and some change, we played very, very good basketball.”
Perhaps consecutive victories could provide a small bright spot for the Cavaliers, who haven’t done that since winning a season-high three in a row Nov. 5-9.
A strong finish with five games remaining could help them avoid ending with the worst record in the league for the first time since going 17-65 in 2002-03, the season prior to drafting James first overall.
Cleveland currently owns the dubious honor, but is just one-half game back of Minnesota, the last-place team in the West.
Ramon Sessions(notes), who had 18 points Tuesday, has put together an impressive stretch, averaging 19.5 points on 54.3 percent shooting over the last four games. The swingman is making 45.9 percent of his shots with a career-high average of 12.9 points per game on the season.
Sessions made just 1 of 10 field goals to finish with four points as the Cavaliers shot 38.1 percent in a 101-81 loss at Toronto (21-56) on Oct. 29.
Cleveland fell 120-105 to the Raptors at home in the most recent meeting Jan. 5, and is 5-33 on the road.
Toronto has dropped seven of eight after losing 131-118 at New York on Tuesday, and could be without center Andrea Bargnani(notes) - the team leader at 21.4 points per game - after he was limited to just under nine minutes of playing time while not scoring against the Knicks.
DeMar DeRozan(notes) came a point shy of his personal best Tuesday, scoring 36 while grabbing 10 rebounds. The swingman is averaging 26.5 points and 5.5 boards over the last four games, while compiling career highs of 17.0 and 3.8, respectively, this season.