Nearly six months after their surprising trip to the Western Conference semifinals, the Golden State Warriors are just looking for a win. With Utah off their schedule until February and a struggling Cleveland Cavaliers team coming to town Tuesday, that might now be a much easier task.
The Warriors (0-3) lost in five games to the Jazz in the semifinals last May, and two of their three defeats to open the 2007-08 season have come at the hands of Utah - both in blowout fashion.
Golden State opened with a 117-96 home loss to the Jazz, fell 120-114 on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers and was routed 133-110 in Salt Lake City in its most recent contest on Saturday.
The Warriors allowed 106.7 points per game in 2006-07 - the most in the league in 10 years - but that would be a step in the right direction for this season's team. Golden State is giving up a league-high 123.3 points - 10 more than the next worst club, Seattle.
Guard Baron Davis knows Golden State is struggling, but isn't overly concerned.
"We're coming. We're coming," he said. "We just have to continue gelling."
One pleasant surprise for Golden State has been the performance of swingman Kelenna Azubuike. The undrafted free agent from Kentucky signed with the Warriors in the middle of last season after his only prior NBA experience had been training camp stints in 2006 with Houston and in 2005 with the Cavaliers.
With Austin Croshere and Troy Hudson injured and Stephen Jackson in the midst of a seven-game league-imposed suspension for an offseason incident at an Indianapolis strip club, Azubuike has helped pick up the scoring slack. He had 33 points against the Clippers and is tied with Al Harrington for the team lead in scoring with 20.3 points per game.
"I am very proud of him," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "He is one of my most solid guys, all-around."
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, come to Oakland for the second game of a six-game trip after losing 103-92 to Phoenix on Sunday. Cleveland (1-2) built a 12-point second-quarter lead, but the Suns chipped away before the half and took the game over in the third, largely due to some turnovers by the Cavs.
"We had a few careless mistakes," LeBron James said of Cleveland's 22 giveaways. "We had some unforced ones that were uncharacteristic of us."
The Cavaliers will be looking to improve their scoring against defensively challenged Golden State after posting just 92.0 points in their first three games.
Despite a 110-point performance in a win over New York on Friday, Cleveland has spent most of its time searching for offense. With injuries to Eric Snow and Donyell Marshall, combined with the ongoing absence of unsigned free agent Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers have had to lean on James and a thin front line more than ever.
Cleveland, though, is working swingman Sasha Pavlovic back into the lineup. The fifth-year player from Serbia, who missed the first two games due to a contract dispute, signed a multiyear deal Friday and saw his first action Sunday at Phoenix. Pavlovic averaged 18.5 points per contest against the Warriors last season.
"It's really good to have him back," Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said. "He can help us from a scoring standpoint and a depth standpoint."
Cleveland won both meetings against Golden State last season and is 22-9 in the series since 1991-92. The Cavs, though, are just 8-7 on the road during that stretch.
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited