The Oklahoma City Thunder laid the smackdown on the Bobcats on Monday night, winning 114-69, and negating the positive work new head coach Mike Dunlap had done with the Bobcats to start the season. The Thunder’s 45-point rout of the Bobcats was highlighted by their early 79-25 lead, which prompted DailyThunder blogger, Royce Young, to tweet: “It’s time like these where I really miss Cole Aldrich.” Hasheem Thabeet even recorded his first career double-double (!) in some prolonged garbage time. But the Bobcats can take solace in the fact their loss wasn’t the worse in NBA history. In fact, it’s not even the worst since the beginning of the shot clock era. Nope, we have five other losses that were worse than the Bobcats last night. Lets get to it, and may God have mercy on the losing teams from this list.
Cheer up Charlotte fans. Things could have been worse…
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5. January 31, 2003: DETROIT PISTONS 118 at BOSTON CELTICS 66
Ahh yes, the pre-Doc Celtics and the pre-Larry Brown Pistons. In their place, we had Jim O’Brien coaching the Celtics and Flip Saunders coaching a tough defensive team in Detroit. Like most of these blowouts, things started poorly for the prideful Celtics, who were embarrassed by their worst loss as a franchise on their once monarchial home-court. They were down 12 after one quarter, and down 27 at the half. From there it just got worse: the lead was 35 at the end of the third quarter, and the final period saw the Pistons scrubs outscore the Celtics scrubs 32-15. Aside from the first quarter when they scored 20, the Celtics didn’t crack the 20-point mark in the ensuing three quarters, scoring 44 points collectively over those 36 minutes of action.
This wasn’t a bad Celtics team. They featured superstar-in-the-making Paul Pierce and a pre-bankruptcy-and-bloated-torso Antoine Walker. Pierce averaged over 25 points a game that year, and Walker over 20, but Walker especially couldn’t find the bucket on this night. ‘Toine would finish 1-for-15 from the field for six points, three rebounds, two turnovers and zero assists in 30 minutes of action. Pierce was better, dropping 23 points on 8-for-18 shooting in 31 minutes of action. But aside from ten points from J.R. Bremer, no other Celtic cracked double-figures. It’s never a good sign when your leading scorer (23 points) has more than a third of your team’s points overall. Also, simply because spotting him in the box score was a delightful surprise, Vin Baker played 20 minutes for the Celtics on this night; he attempted no shots, grabbed just two rebounds while also committing two fouls.
On the flip (Saunders) side, Detroit wasn’t having much trouble scoring buckets. Detroit’s two leading scorers that year came from their dynamic backcourt tandem of Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. For the game, Rip was 10-for-17 from the field for 29 points in 31 minutes, and Billups was 9-for-14 from the field (including 4-for-8 from deep) for 24 points in 26 minutes of action. As a team, Detroit shot 52 percent from the field, and 12-for-34 from behind the arc. The Celtics shot a shade under 30 percent from the field as a whole, but they were 8-for-22 from long range, which wasn’t that much worse a three-point shooting percentage than Detroit (36 percent vs. Detroit’s 37).
Despite the worst loss in Boston history (and on their home court no less), the 2002-03 Celtics went on to finish 44-38 and advance past the Pacers, 4-2, in the first round of the playoffs. Jason Kidd‘s New Jersey team then swept them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Pistons finished 50-32 on the season, but made it past Tracy McGrady‘s Magic team and Allen Iverson‘s 76ers team to eventually lose four straight to the Nets in the Conference Finals. The next year saw Larry Brown take over for Flip and, buttressed by a midseason trade for Rasheed Wallace, the Larry O’Brien trophy went back to Motown for the first time since Isiah was running point.
The Celtics, as most fans know, toiled in mediocrity for the next few years before their blockbuster trades brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to town in the summer of 2007. But on this night, the Celtics were embarrassed by Detroit, and it remains a black stain on possibly the greatest NBA franchise of all time.