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Cavs, Warriors toppled as early season struggles continue

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The NBA champion Golden State Warriors and beaten finalists Cleveland tumbled Sunday as early season struggles continued for the league’s powerhouse teams.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 66 points to lead the New York Knicks to a 114-95 victory over the Cavs in Cleveland.

In Oakland, California, the Warriors coughed up 25 turnovers in a 115-107 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

The Knicks notched their first win over the Cavs since October 30, 2014, ending a 10-game losing streak against the Cavs, tipped before the season to be headed to the finals for a fourth time.

Hardaway scored 34 points and Porzingis added 32 with 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who handed LeBron James and the Cavaliers a fourth defeat in eight days.

“Tonight’s loss and the last couple are unacceptable, and the only way we’re going to be able to get out of it is to put the work in — as players, as coaches,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “And we’re going to do that.”

A day after falling to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Cavaliers looked lethargic as they trailed by 18 points in the third quarter.

They trimmed the deficit to 94-88 on a James layup with 8:20 to play before the Knicks regained control.

Kevin Love again led Cleveland with 22 points and 11 rebounds. James added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and said it’s too early in the season to worry.

“What is this? October? I’m not about to go crazy over it right now,” James said.

While the Cavs have struggled with slow starts, the Warriors have been finding it hard to hold onto leads.

Golden State squandered a 14-point third-quarter advantage over Detroit, who shot just 46.2 percent from the field but benefitted from the Warriors’ sloppy play.

The Warriors connected on a blistering 61.4 percent of their shots over the first three periods, but trailed 101-88 at 6:25 of the fourth quarter.

The Warriors were down 108-105 with 1:55 to play when they got a steal from Stephen Curry. But he missed the contested layup and then a three-point attempt.

Tobias Harris added a three-pointer for Detroit, before Curry lost the ball to Avery Bradley, whose layup sealed it for the Pistons.

“At some point, the ball just has to matter,” said exasperated Golden State coach Steve Kerr. “We are throwing the ball all over the place. It’s focus and execution.

“Teams are coming after us every single night, and we know that. We are getting everybody’s best shot, and if you don’t match that type of energy and play with some intelligence and some discipline, you are not going to win.”

Perennial Western Conference contenders San Antonio also fell as Indiana’s Victor Oladipo drained the game-winning three-pointer with 10.3 seconds remaining in a 97-94 win over the Spurs.

– Poised Pacers –

The Pacers led much of the game before the Spurs rallied to take a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter.

“We just stayed poised,” said Oladipo, who finished with 23 points. “It’s a long game, there’s a lot of ups and downs. It’s a game of runs. You’ve just got to lift each other up. We did a good job of that.”

Oladipo admitted that his shot from 30 feet away, which put the Pacers up 95-94, was “maybe too deep”.

“Honestly, I didn’t really want to shoot it that far, but the move felt good and I just held my follow-through and it went in,” he said.

“He was deep and he was off-balance, but give him credit, he knocked it down,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after his team’s second straight defeat.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points to lead the Spurs. But he missed a jump shot with 5.1 seconds left and Patty Mills missed a potential game-tying three-pointer just before the buzzer as San Antonio’s rally effort fell short. – Agence France-Presse

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