NEW YORK (Reuters) - The nightmare season for the Cleveland Cavaliers could take an even darker turn as another defeat would given them ownership of the longest losing skid in all four major North American professional sports.

The Cavaliers, who extended their NBA-record losing skid to 26 games when they lost to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, could set the mark for futility with a defeat at home on Friday to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The downtrodden team, playing their first season without two-time reigning NBA MVP LeBron James, are currently tied with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who endured their own shameful skid over two seasons from 1976-77.

Cleveland coach Byron Scott said the Cavaliers' latest loss was the worst effort the team has had had in a month.

"I'm mad as hell," an angry Scott told reporters. "I can deal with losing, especially when guys are playing as hard as we did the last few games. I find it very hard to deal with when guys don't come out ready to play."

The Cavaliers (8-45), whose last win came on December 18 over the New York Knicks, have lost 36 of their last 37 games, a dramatic turnaround from last season when they finished with the top regular-season record in the NBA.

Cleveland, who have yet to recover since All-Star James opted to sign with the Miami Heat last July, held the previous NBA record of 24 straight losses set over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.

The Cleveland Spiders set baseball's longest skid with 24 consecutive losses in 1899 but the Philadelphia Phillies set the modern day mark with 23 straight defeats in 1961.

The Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks share the NHL's longest skid when they lost 17 straight games in the 1974-75 and 1992-93 seasons respectively.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)