Is 0-19 – or even worse – possible for the Wizards?

November 28, 2012

0-No…. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

 

The Wizards had no chance against San Antonio after coming oh-so close against Charlotte and oh-so even closer in Atlanta. Off to the worst start in franchise history, the Wizards (0-12) are now seeking to avoid becoming the 10th team in NBA history to open a season with 13 consecutive losses as they host Portland tonight at Verizon Center.

Martell Webster claimed the Wizards were in a “must-win” situation before their third game of the season in Boston, but the term is perhaps more apropos for the contest against the Trail Blazers (6-8). Nene and Shaun Livingston are both expected to return after missing the previous loss to San Antonio to rest injuries and Nene’s influence in his two previous games has been impossible to ignore.

Portland is the last team with a losing record that the Wizards will face until they travel to New Orleans on Dec. 11 to face the Hornets. The Hornets have been good to the Wizards in the past, since the Wizards ended their overall franchise-worst 16-game losing streak at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010.

But they would probably prefer to join the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets as the only team in NBA history to need 13 games to record its first victory of the season.

After Portland, the Wizards’ next four games are on the road against the Atlantic Division-leading New York Knicks, at home against the defending champion and Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat, on the road against the Hawks (where they haven’t won in more than four years) and at home against the surprising, Pacific Division-leading Golden State Warriors.

If the Wizards are unable to get a win against their next five opponents, they will arrive in New Orleans on a 17-game losing streak and with a chance to match the New Jersey Nets’ all-time record for worst regular season start at 0-18.

Then, they would be staring at an ignominious record when they face the Rockets in Houston on the next night. But the schedule doesn’t get any easier after that. Not with a gruesome back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Lakers at home and the Heat on the road. After a few days off, they’ll welcome the Hawks.

The schedule lightens up a bit after that, with games against Orlando, Detroit (twice), Cleveland and Orlando again.

John Wall is expected to return from a stress injury in his knee at some point next month, which gives the Wizards a better chance to sneak out a win against a good team. But the path toward avoiding infamy isn’t easy by any stretch.

THE PREVIOUS 0-12s (according to Elias Sports Bureau):

Team Start End Number of losses before 1st win
New Jersey 10/28/2009 12/02/2009 18
L.A. Clippers 02/05/1999 03/10/1999 17
Miami 11/05/1988 12/12/1988 17
L.A. Clippers 11/04/1994 12/05/1994 16
Philadelphia 10/10/1972 11/10/1972 15
Cleveland 10/14/1970 11/10/1970 15
Denver 10/29/1949 11/25/1949 15
Memphis 10/30/2002 11/22/2002 13
Phoenix 11/01/1996 11/26/1996 13
Denver 10/31/1997 11/25/1997 12
Washington 10/30/2012   12*

*Still active

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · November 28, 2012