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Tip-Off Timer: Amazing 23-Game Losing Streaks for Grizzlies, Nuggets

Oct 4, 2009 – 9:00 AM
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Tom Ziller

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Tip-Off Timer counts down the days until the first game of the 2009-10 season. On Sunday, there are 23 days remaining.

The inaugural Vancouver Grizzlies of 1995-96 were not a handsome team -- and that's not just a Bryant Reeves joke. The expansion club was flawed in ohsomany ways, with the primary flaw being that the roster had very, very little talent.

The 1998 Denver Nuggets were every bit as bad ... without the expansion excuse to fall back on. Top to bottom, the Nuggets lacked talent and finished with only 11 wins. In an 82-game season. But other than being completely awful, these two teams have another unfortunate bond: they share the record for longest single-season losing streak at 23 games.

Denver's epic fail began December 9, 1997, when the team began a road swing in Detroit. Expectations were low, no doubt, as the Nuggets brought a magnificent record of 2-15 into the game. But that third win ... it didn't come around for quite a while, in which "six weeks" qualifies as "a while." The Nuggets dropped 23 straight contests before cracking out Win No. 3 on January 24, 1998, against (who else?) the Clippers in L.A., on what was mathematically the final game of the first half of the season. The victory brought the Nuggets to a record of 3-38, which is a winning percentage of 0.073. The 23-game fail string reigned over two other awful Nuggets streaks that season: a 12-game losing streak to open the campaign, and a 16-game losing streak which began fairly soon after the end of the 23-gamer. By the middle of March, the Nuggets had a record of 5-58, which makes it all the more miraculous that the team was able to squeeze six wins in the final 19 games.

The Grizzlies also got their losing out of the way early. Vancouver began its history, incredibly, with a 2-0 record. (Remember that when the Wolves or some such pox begins their season with a couple wins.) Then came the 19-game losing streak, which took the Grizz all the up to December 13, 1995. Vancouver went 9-18 over the next six weeks, and opened the post-All Star Weekend sessions with a win over Sacramento. The team's record was 11-37. Then it fell apart. The Grizzlies got stuck on those 11 wins, not earning its 12th until April 3, 1996. But hey, if you take out the two ridiculously long streaks, the Grizzlies would have went 15-25! Not so bad.
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