The Cleveland Cavaliers' hopes of kickstarting their season after a win over the Washington Wizards took a dent on Sunday night as they suffered another miserable home loss.
It was easily their worst defeat so far as they went down 117-115 to an Atlanta Hawks team who had come into the contest on an eight-game losing streak and had won only one game.
Just like their other losses at home against the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers, the Cavs made a slow and sluggish start and failed to tie or take the lead in the game after going behind early in the first quarter.
Despite conducting a team meeting last week to hash out their problems, the Cavaliers have not addressed their main issue on the floor at the defensive end.
After the disappointing loss to the Hawks, there were signs of division in the camp as Dwyane Wade called out the team's starters for the way they begin games.
"It's no secret we're starting games off awful," Wade said. "Terrible. And [Atlanta] got it going early, and the effort or the focus just wasn't there to start off, and you try to battle back, you waste a lot of energy trying to come back from 16-18 down, and it's tough nightly to do this.
"And we all know this. It's no secret in this locker room, but our first unit, we got to start off better."
Cleveland trailed 37-28 after the first quarter, making it the seventh time in 10 games that the team was down after one. Per ESPN, the Cavs have given up 311 points in the first quarter this season, while scoring 262.
Wade provided a huge spark off the bench for the Wine and Gold and dropped a season-high 25 points with 19 coming in the first half where he helped the team chop the deficit to two points at one stage.
"I want one time for the first unit to get on the second unit because we blew a lead," Wade said. "I'm waiting for that day to happen."
The Cavs bench outscored the starters 64-51 and only LeBron James and Derrick Rose finished in double figures from the starting five.
J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love finished with a combined 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
The latter might have had the worst day of all. First, he showed his visible frustration at picking up his third foul in the first half by channeling Hulk Hogan and ripping his jersey.
Then he exited the game for good in the third quarter with an illness, finishing with four points on 1-for-6 and four rebounds.
The Ohio-based franchise had one of the easiest stretches of games statistically but have only managed to win two out of the last four.
Things are about to get tougher this week, though, as they face the red-hot Giannis Anteteokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets in their next two outings.