EditorsNote: Adds “respectively” in 7th graf
Kevin Love came one assist shy of a triple-double, Tristan Thompson scored 25 points, and the host Cleveland Cavaliers held off a late rally to beat the Indiana Pacers, 110-99, Saturday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Cleveland led almost wire-to-wire in Saturday’s early-season, Central Division matchup, building an advantage that swelled to as many as 24 points.
The front-court duo of Love and Thompson set the tone, with Love registering 21 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and Thompson posting a double-double with 13 rebounds. His team-high 25 points included his first career 3-pointer.
Behind a game-high 30 points from guard Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana sliced the gap to seven points in the final two minutes of regulation. A Thompson jumper and free throws from guard Collin Sexton, who finished with 18 points, stemmed the rally.
The win is the first of Cavaliers coach John Beilein’s professional career. He took over in Cleveland this season after 754 wins and nearly four decades in the college ranks, the last 12 of which were spent at the University of Michigan.
Beilein’s new-look offensive approach struggled on opening night against Orlando, but the Cavaliers flourished against Indiana. Twenty-three of the team’s 40 made field-goal attempts came off assists, with rookie Darius Garland’s four second to Love’s nine among all Cavs. Garland added 12 points.
With the offense clicking more efficiently, Cleveland’s defense powered it to a double-digit lead in the first half. The Indiana front-court duo of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, who scored 52 combined points in a season-opening loss to Detroit on Wednesday, finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively, on Saturday.
For a second consecutive game, the Pacers’ bench was outscored. Guard Justin Holiday scored 10 for Indiana to lead the reserves, who totaled 22. Jordan Clarkson’s 15 points paced a 33-point effort from the Cavaliers reserve.
Turner was the only Pacer to rebound in double figures with 11. Love and Thompson’s work on the glass powered a 44-36 Cleveland advantage.
—Field Level Media