LOS ANGELES, United States, Oct 22 – The defending champion Golden State Warriors and finals runners-up Cleveland Cavaliers are still shaking off the cobwebs, with both NBA powerhouses suffering double-digit defeats on Saturday.
The Warriors fell 111-101 to the Grizzlies in Memphis, while the Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers were manhandled at home by the Orlando Magic 114-93.
The Warriors dropped their second of three games to start the new season as center Marc Gasol scored 34 points for the Grizzlies, who continued their strong play against Golden State at the FedExForum.
Last season Memphis handed Golden State two of their 15 regular-season losses, including a 110-89 rout in December at the same venue.
The Warriors got 37 points from guard Stephen Curry and 29 points and 13 rebounds from forward Kevin Durant. But both were thrown out of the game with 43 seconds left for arguing with the officials.
Curry was tossed after he threw his mouthpiece in the direction of an official after he thought he had been fouled on a drive to the basket. Durant tried to argue in Curry’s favor and was sent to the dressing room as well.
It was the first time in his career that Curry was ejected in a regular season game. A much calmer Curry said after the game that his ejection was justified.
“I thought I got fouled. My frustration boiled over and I did something stupid,” Curry said. “I deserved to get kicked out.”
The Grizzlies led almost the entire contest and by as many as 19 points in the second half, showing off their revamped, up-tempo lineup.
In Cleveland, Nikola Vucevic scored 23 points and the Orlando Magic snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Cavaliers.
Orlando led by as many as 37 points and never trailed.
The skid was the longest in Magic history to any one team, just as the winning streak was Cleveland’s best against a single opponent. The Cavaliers hadn’t lost to the Magic since November 2012.
Jonathon Simmons came off the bench to score 19 points for Orlando and Evan Fournier finished with 13 points. D.J. Augustin had 12 points and 16 assists.
“They were playing at a different speed than we were. Way faster,” said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue. “They got early confidence and when they got off to their hot start it was hard to put them out. ”
In Salt Lake City, the short-handed Utah Jazz used a dominant defensive effort to upset the Oklahoma City thunder 96-87.
Joe Ingles scored 19 points to lead five Jazz players in double figures. Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Utah, who held their Northwest Division rivals to just 20 points in the paint.
Elsewhere, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds, Rudy Gay had 12 points and Pau Gasol tallied 10 as the San Antonio Spurs added to the Chicago Bulls’ early season misery with an 87-77 win.
The Spurs, who are playing without last season’s leading scorer Kawhi Leonard and French star Tony Parker, led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Leonard is out with right quadriceps tendinopathy while veteran guard Parker is out until mid-November after undergoing surgery on his left quadriceps tendon.
– Pick up slack –
Leonard’s absence has put more pressure on Aldridge to pick up the slack and the 32-year-old American has delivered.
Robin Lopez scored 16 points for the Bulls, who are without a handful of key players, including Bobby Portis who is serving an eight-game suspension for a fight with teammate Nikola Mirotic.
The fight in practice this week left Mirotic, of Montenegro, in hospital with broken bones in his face and a concussion. He could be out up to six weeks.
Portis publicly apologized to Mirotic on Saturday saying players are battling for jobs and “things happen.”
“I’m wrong for what I did,” he said. “Me and Niko are competitors and we’re in the same position (at forward) and so we compete. We compete and things happen.”