Collin Sexton scored 27 points and Darius Garland added 22 to fuel host Cleveland Cavaliers to a 121-114 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday in the season opener for both teams.
Andre Drummond of Cleveland had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Larry Nance Jr. had 13 of each to go with eight assists. Nance was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Kevin Love, who was absent due to calf strain in his right leg.
Charlotte’s Terry Rozier sank 10 3-pointers to mark a performance of 42 points, including 36 in the second half. The Ohio native averaged 32.5 points in two games in Cleveland last season.
Gordon Hayward scored 28 points in his first game since breaking a finger on his right hand in a preseason game against Toronto on December 14.
Hornets forward Cody Zeller, however, sustained a broken left hand in the fourth quarter and did not return.
Sexton took his first six shots from the field – including three 3-pointers – to get the Cavaliers off to a good start. Cleveland beat Charlotte by a 41-21 margin in the second quarter to grab a 65-44 lead at halftime.
Rozier drained a 3-point trio in just over two minutes and Hayward also connected across the arc to reduce Cleveland’s lead to 79-68 with 5:19 left in the third quarter. Rozier sank another 3 points to bring the Hornets to under eight points before Cedi Osman responded with one of his own on Cleveland’s next possession.
Osman added another 3 points from the corner, and Nance’s out pass found Drummond for a categorical dunk to push the Cavaliers ahead to 102-85 with 8:38 to go. Rozier sank two more 3 points and Devonte ‘Graham added another to help the Hornets escape, but to no avail.
LaMelo Ball, who was the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, missed all five shots from the field, including three from long distance, to finish without a point in his debut with the Hornets.
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