It didn't take long for the Charlotte Bobcats to match last season's win total, but they never recovered from a lengthy losing streak.
Still, a late-season push could help them avoid the league's worst record.
Charlotte goes for a season high-tying third straight victory in Wednesday night's season finale against a visiting Cleveland Cavaliers team that could be playing its last game under coach Byron Scott.
With a 7-5 start under first-year coach Mike Dunlap, the Bobcats took a little more than three weeks to equal their victory total from a season ago when they finished 7-59 for the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.
Charlotte (20-61), though, dropped its next 18 - eight fewer than Cleveland's league-record 26-game skid two seasons ago.
The Bobcats will miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season, but they have an opportunity to leapfrog Orlando and escape the NBA cellar. The teams are tied for the worst record, with the Magic closing at Miami on Wednesday.
"We want to take care of that," guard Gerald Henderson said after scoring a team-best 27 points in Monday's 106-95 victory over New York. "It's not been one of our goals to start the season, obviously, but it's become a smaller goal for us as we've come down the stretch."
Charlotte has been playing well at home over the last month, winning seven of nine following back-to-back victories over Milwaukee and the Knicks. The Bobcats won a season-best three straight overall Nov. 10-14.
The Cavaliers (24-57), meanwhile, arrive in Charlotte following a fifth straight defeat and 15th in 17 games, 96-95 to the Heat on Monday. It was a far better effort than Sunday's 91-77 loss at Philadelphia, but Scott still sounded like a defeated man.
"I'm fatigued, mentally, physically, a little bit of everything," he said. "But I still wake up every morning ready for work."
There's a chance Scott won't be doing that much longer for the Cavs, even though he's under contract for next season, which would be his fourth with the team.
"I am going to be back to coach them," he said. "I've got a year left on my contract, so unless I'm told different, I expect to do that."
Expectations were high on Kyrie Irving, last season's Rookie of the Year, but the Cavs' injury-plagued point guard has played just 58 games and been inconsistent at times. Of his past nine games, he's scored at least 27 points four times but averaged 11.2 in the other five.
Irving has keyed Cleveland winning both meetings with Charlotte this season, scoring 33 in a 106-104 victory at Charlotte on Jan. 4 and finishing with 22 in a 122-95 home win Feb. 6. That was the Cavs' sixth straight win in the series and most lopsided since LeBron James left for Miami.
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