NBA wrap: Warriors, Cavaliers continue early-season struggles

The bumpy early starts to the season for the 2017 NBA finalists continued Sunday night, as the Warriors and Cavaliers both lost at home.

Warriors' Stephen Curry shoots during the game against Detroit Pistons, which the latter won 115-107.   -  USA TODAY

The bumpy early starts to the season for the 2017 NBA finalists continued Sunday night, as the Warriors and Cavaliers both suffered home losses.

Actually, “bumpy” is a kind characterization of the Cavaliers’ season start. Yes, it’s too soon to panic and the Cavaliers is not at full strength, but a 19-point loss at home to the Knicks, which dropped its record to 3-4, piles on the cause for concern in Cleveland.

The Warriors’ 115-107 loss to the Pistons, meanwhile, makes it 4-3 on the season, but its situation seems far less dire than its counterparts in the East. 

Trailing 92-75 coming into the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 13-2 run that tantalized Clevelanders into thinking its team was about to put an end to its two-game losing streak. But the Knicks retook control and widened its lead to a 114-95 count by the time the buzzer sounded.

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New York got 34 points from Tim Hardaway Jr. and 32 from Kristaps Porzingis, and solid performances from Enes Kanter (18 points on 6 of 8 shooting, 12 rebounds) and Courtney Lee (15 points, 10 rebounds), while the Cleveland box score was a virtual wasteland.

For the second straight night, Kevin Love (22 points) was the sole Cavalier to break the 20-point threshold, while LeBron James was held to 16.

The Cavs are traversing the first half of the season without Isaiah Thomas, who they acquired from Boston in the Kyrie Irving trade, and the lineup they’re putting forth may best be described as make-shift. It certainly doesn’t appear to be working.

There is also a body-language issue with the Cavaliers: There doesn’t appear to be much effort on defense. While that’s not what Cavs fans necessarily want to hear, perhaps it’s something that can be fixed when they feel the need to start taking the season seriously.

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The Warriors’ early-season woes seem less complex. Complacency may be an issue, but it’s difficult to argue that talent or chemistry are part of the problem, since all the pieces of its three-year run of success are still in place.

Studs of the Night

Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his torrid start to the season, with 33 points (14 for 21 from the field), 11 rebounds and five assists in the Bucks’ 117-106 win at Atlanta. The Greek Freak’s quick start has been historic.

Kemba Walker continued to turn heads with a 34-point, 10-assists, six-rebound performance in the Hornets’ 120-113 win at home over the Magic.

Duds of the Night

Tristan Thompson was virtually non-existent in the 19 minutes he played against the Knicks, as he missed the only shot he took and finished with one point and no rebounds. 

Orlando’s D. J. Augustin barely showed up against his old mates, going 0 for 7 from the floor with no points in the Magic’s loss in Charlotte.

We don’t want to come down too hard on a rookie in his first month, but De’Aaron Fox had a welcome-to-the-NBA sort of Sunday. The Kentucky product shot 1 for 8 and turned the ball over four times in the Kings’ 110-83 loss to the Wizards and John Wall, the player with whom Fox has drawn plenty of hopeful comparisons.

What’s next:
San Antonio Spurs (4-2) at Boston Celtics (4-2)
.  The Spurs has followed a 4-0 start with two straight losses – at the Magic on Friday night, 114-87; and Sunday at the Pacers, 97-94, thanks to a late three-pointer by Victor Oladipo. 

Gregg Popovich’s bunch looks to right the ship Monday in Boston against a Celtics team that has won four straight after losing its first two games of Kyrie Irving era.

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