While other teams are fighting for wins to strengthen their playoff positioning, both the young Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats are experiencing painful lessons in simply getting into winning position.
The bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference have an opportunity to end losing streaks at the other's expense Monday night at Charlotte.
To put the 19 combined wins of Washington and Charlotte in perspective, 25 teams entered play Sunday with 20 or more victories. The Wizards have dropped five straight and 10 of 11 heading into this matchup, while the Bobcats are mired in an 11-game losing streak - their second one to reach double digits in the compressed season.
Washington (12-44) is wrapping up a three-game road swing but has been idle since ending a stretch of games on back-to-back-to-back nights with a 110-98 defeat at New Jersey on Friday. The Wizards never led, trailed by 13 after one quarter and allowed the Nets to shoot 56.3 percent.
"We just dug ourselves a hole like we did (Thursday) night and we let them do whatever they wanted," coach Randy Wittman said. "We got what we deserved."
Slow starts have plagued the Wizards during their current skid, getting outscored by an average of 7.8 points in the first quarter while averaging 21.8 points.
Point guard John Wall, though, thinks his team can build a foundation over the final 10 games.
"Try to win them all. I mean that's going to be tough to do, but you want to win games," he said. "We are just happy with the team we have. We're playing like more of a team, we're playing hard with this group of guys."
Charlotte (7-47) tied the third-worst record through 54 games in NBA history with its 116-96 home loss to Atlanta on Saturday. The Bobcats, though, are entering arguably their most winnable stretch of schedule with games against Cleveland and Detroit following this contest.
Poor defense again was the Bobcats' main undoing Saturday as the Hawks shot 52.4 percent. It was the 21st time Charlotte has allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better and the 11th time it gave up 110 or more points in regulation.
Offensively, the Bobcats have rarely put together four good quarters. They have been held under 20 points in at least one quarter in nine of their 11 losses in this losing streak.
Cory Higgins, though, provided a bright spot Saturday with a career-high 22 points as guard D.J. Augustin (knee tendinitis) missed a second straight game.
"You always want to win but it felt great to get some extended minutes and show what I can do," said Higgins, who raised his season average to 4.3 points. "The next step is trying to get everybody involved at the same point. Once I figure out the right balance, I'll be all right."
Two of Washington's wins have come against Charlotte in a four-day span, including a 102-99 road victory Jan. 28 in the most recent meeting. The Wizards have won three straight overall between the teams after dropping six of the previous seven.