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Cavaliers hold off Charlotte in season opener

Sexton scores 27 in 121-114 win
Cleveland Cavaliers' Collin Sexton (2) drives to the basket, and is fouled by Charlotte...
Cleveland Cavaliers' Collin Sexton (2) drives to the basket, and is fouled by Charlotte Hornets' P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)(Tony Dejak | AP)
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 10:59 PM EST
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Collin Sexton scored 27 points, Darius Garland added 22 and the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first home game in nearly 300 days, overcoming the hot shooting of Terry Rozier for a 121-114 win Wednesday night over the Charlotte Hornets.

Hyped rookie LaMelo Ball didn’t score in his NBA debut with Charlotte, and Hornets center Cody Zeller broke his left hand.

Rozier made a career-high 10 3-pointers and scored 42 points to lead the Hornets, who made it interesting with a late rally.

Upset by their exclusion from the NBA’s “bubble” in Orlando, the Cavs made the most of getting back on their home floor for the first time in the regular season since March 8.

Andre Drummond added 14 points and 14 rebounds and Larry Nance had 13 and 13 for Cleveland, which played without star forward Kevin Love. He’s out with a strained right calf.

Gordon Hayward scored 28 points in his first game with the Hornets, who signed him to a 4-year, $120 million deal after he opted out in Boston.

Rozier scored 36 points — 24 on 3s — in the second half to keep the Hornets within striking distance. They got within five in the final minute, but Sexton made three free throws to close it for the Cavs, who led by 18 with 3:32 left.

It wasn’t the start Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft who has revived interest and hope in Charlotte, wanted. He went 0 for 5 from the floor and had three assists in 16 minutes.

Cleveland took control with a 41-point second quarter, which featured a 21-4 spurt to close the half and included a two-handed slam dunk by rookie Isaac Okoro, who started. The Cavs shot 17 of 23 (74%) in the second quarter.

TIP-INS

Hornets: Hayward is playing with a fractured pinkie finger on his right shooting hand. ... It’s not clear when Zeller got hurt. ... Ball went 0 for 3 on 3-pointers. ... This debut went better than Hayward’s previous one in Cleveland. He broke his left leg in his first game with Boston here in 2017.

Cavaliers: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is “hopeful” that Love will return on the weekend. ... Rookie Dylan Windler injured his left wrist on hard fall in the third quarter. ... Ahead of the opener, the team picked up contract options on Sexton, Garland, Windler and Kevin Porter Jr.

UP NEXT

Hornets: Hayward and Ball make their home debuts on Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Cavaliers: Drummond faces his former team for the first time since he was traded to Cleveland with a visit to Detroit on Saturday. He was a two-time All-Star in eight seasons with the Pistons.

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