Rookie Trae Young scores 35, Hawks rout Cavs
CLEVELAND — Trae Young had 35 points with 11 assists — the best line for a first-year player since Steph Curry in 2010 — and Kent Bazemore scored 23 as the Atlanta Hawks rolled to an easy 133-111 win on Sunday over the Cleveland, which lost its home opener and fell to 0-3 as it re-adjusts to life 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 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.
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.
Cleveland’s theme this season is “Be The Fight.” The Cavs barely showed any.
Hawks: Atlanta has 10 players with two years or less NBA experience. The Hawks’ roster currently averages 3.64 years of experience, a number that drops to 2.63 with the exclusion of Vince Carter, a 20-year veteran.
Cavaliers: Sexton was called for a Flagrant 1 foul in the second quarter for stepping under Bazemore, who was attempting a 3-pointer. … Cleveland had won its past three home openers.
Hawks: Host Dallas in their home opener on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday.
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