With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Charlotte Bobcats are two wins shy of hitting one their more realistic goals following last year.
Two more victories would give the Bobcats 20 wins this year following a seven-win season last year that put Charlotte in the record books with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
But even that benchmark still falls short of what the rest of the league is doing, and currently sitting in last place in the league, the Bobcats (18-60) are three losses shy of entering the NBA draft lottery with the most ping-pong balls for a second straight year.
“We really want to get (to 20 wins). It would be important,” Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. “We wanted to get around tripling our win rate from last year.
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“Quietly, yeah we wanted to do better than that, of course. But 20 wins would be special if we could do that. It’s something that would be the first step in a long journey to get this organization into the playoffs.”
After a 7-5 start to the season, the Bobcats were on pace to hit 20 wins by early January. But two losing streaks of 10 or more games derailed an otherwise promising start to a season branded as a rebuilding year.
Standing in the way of the Bobcats and that goal are games against Detroit on Friday night and then a three-game home finish against Milwaukee, New York and Cleveland.
The Bobcats are 1-2 against the Pistons despite having played Detroit close all season, losing two games by a combined seven points. They’re 1-6 against the remaining three teams, but Charlotte could see a Knicks team resting its starters for the playoffs when New York visits next week, which would aid in Charlotte hitting that 20-win plateau.
“We obviously, we haven’t played like we wanted to this year,” Bobcats shooting guard Gerald Henderson said, “but I think coming in these last four games at least win two, get that 20-win mark, try to get above Orlando. That’s important to us so we’ll try to do both of those things.”
It’s a two-horse limp to the bottom of the NBA standings between the Magic and Bobcats. Orlando (20-59) owns a game-and-a-half advantage over Charlotte for next-to-last place in the league.
The Magic has three playoff-bound teams remaining on its schedule while the Bobcats have two. Should the Bobcats finish in last place in the league, they’ll have a 25-percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick. But if the teams finish with the same record, a coin flip will decide which team gets an extra ping-pong ball in the lottery.
But both Henderson and Dunlap know keeping an eye on the Magic won’t do anything for the Bobcats’ performance on the court.
“I think our only focus is to be only as good as we can be,” Dunlap said. “Chasing shadows is no good. There’s process and there’s results. Unfortunately up here the process sometimes is slower than people want and the results aren’t quite what they want. But it’s our job to stay the course.”