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Cleveland Cavaliers fall to Atlanta Hawks in home opener

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their first home game of the season to the Atlanta Hawks 133-111.

The Cavaliers opened their home schedule Sunday against the 0-2 Atlanta Hawks.  After two straight games on the road, the Cavs kicked off in Quicken Loans Arena at 6 p.m.

Trae Young had 35 points with 11 assists — the best line for an NBA rookie in eight years — and Kent Bazemore scored 23 as the Atlanta Hawks rolled to an easy 133-111 win on Sunday over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost their home opener and fell to 0-3 in their first season without LeBron James.

The No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft, Young shook off a slow start and showed why the Hawks believe he’s a future superstar. Young is the first rookie to reach at least 35 points and 10 assists since Steph Curry in 2010.

Young made six of Atlanta’s 22 3-pointers while overshadowing Cleveland rookie guard Collin Sexton. Young missed four of his first five shots but finished 13 of 23 from the field. He struggled in his first two games, making just 12 of 32.

Kevin Love scored 16 and added 17 rebounds for the Cavs, who could be in for a very long season as they adjust to life after LeBron.

But Cleveland’s issues appear to be far deeper than no longer having the game’s best player. The Cavs aren’t playing professional level defense and have given up 116, 131 and 133 points in their first three games.

The Hawks led 92-86 after three and then put it away by making seven 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the final period. Atlanta made 10 3s in the final period.

While wearing neon green sneakers, Young showed plenty of flash in his game.

He made 6 of 7 shots and scored 18 points in the second quarter, helping the Hawks erase a 15-point lead and go up 64-60 at halftime. Young also knocked down three 3-pointers in the quarter, displaying the range that made him so difficult to defend in college.

It’s a whole new ballgame in Cleveland without James, who carried the Cavs to four straight NBA Finals and a title in 2016 before leaving as a free agent — for the second time — in July for Los Angeles.

The Cavs are starting over, but believe they can still be competitive in the Eastern Conference.

Their pinning most of those hopes on Love, who signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension this summer. But he doesn’t have much help and it could be a while before Sexton is ready to contribute. He came off the bench and scored four points in 28 minutes.

This is the first time the  Cavs opened a home slate against Atlanta.  The last time Cleveland took on Atlanta, February 9, 2018, the Cavs topped the Hawks 123-107.

The Cavs had previously won three straight games over Atlanta.

Sunday’s home opener featured the Cavaliers’ new declaration of focus, “Be the Fight.”

Every fan in attendance received a wine-colored opening night “Be the Fight” t-shirt.  However, Quicken Loans Arena was only half-filled for the opening tip as an unusual Sunday evening starting time, combined with a weak opponent, contributed to little energy inside the building.

Sunday’s game was the first time the Cavaliers have played in the Q without LeBron James.

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