CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Twenty-three consecutive losses later, the Charlotte Bobcats made NBA history.
They haven’t won since March 17 and they won’t win again for at least seven months. This season-closing loss — 104-84 at home to the New York Knicks — means they finish the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
A 7-59 record in this lockout-shortened season (a .106 winning percent) slips below the 1972-r], who went 9-73 (.110)
"The season itself was a long haul for all of us - upstairs and downstairs," said coach Paul Silas, who might have coached his last NBA game. His contract expires after this season. "Being the worst team in the history of the game is not something you cherish."
The Knicks, playing without stars Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, took control in the last three minutes of the third quarter and the first minute of the fourth. A three-pointer by New York point guard Mike Bibby topped off a 15-5 run for a 79-64 lead with 11 minutes left.
J.R. Smith (22 points) and Amare Stoudemire (21 points) attacked the rim relentlessly in that span, with Stoudemire drawing oooohs when he dunked emphatically over Bobcats forward Tyrus Thomas.
Shooting guard Gerald Henderson led the Bobcats with 21 points. Before the game, he addressed the crowd, saying, "I know it’s been a tough year. We’ll be working all summer to turn this thing around."
By losing, the Bobcats assured themselves a dubious place in the NBA’s 66-year history. Surely this had to embarrass team owner Michael Jordan, who watched the game from a suite. As NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver observed before the game, Hall of Famer Jordan "probably is one of the most competitive people in the planet."
The 1972-73 76ers finally were free of a dubious distinction. Fred Carter has been famously portrayed for decades as the best player on the worst team. Carter told the Observer in February he strongly doubted the Bobcats were a worse team than those 76ers.
"If I was their best player, you know we didn’t have much talent," Carter said. "I could score 20 points a game, but I never made a teammate better."
In some ways, the margins by which the Bobcats lost might be more damning than their final record: They lost 22 games (a third of the schedule) by20 or more points and nine games by 30 or more points.
The Bobcats’ point-differential - minus-13.8 points per game heading into the finale - was the second-worst since the NBA’s merger with the American Basketball Association in 1976. Only the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks were worse, with a minus-15.2 point-differential.
The Bobcats trailed 46-44 at halftime, after committing 10 turnovers in the first half. The Bobcats played without small forward Derrick Brown, who sat out the game with a sprained ankle. Thomas started in Brown’s place, but was ineffective, making one of four first-half shots and grabbing no rebounds in nine minutes.
Starting point guard D.J. Augustin and reserve forward D.J. White scored nine points each in the first half. With Brown out, coach Paul Silas went long stretches with point guards Augustin and Kemba Walker together in the backcourt, moving Gerald Henderson to small forward.
The Knicks played without stars Carmelo Anthony and ex-Bobcat Tyson Chandler. Power forward Amare Stoudemire did play, scoring 10 points before halftime in 12 minutes. J.R. Smith came off the bench for New York, scoring 15 points before halftime on 7-of-10 shooting.