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NBA: Cavaliers prey on Hawks in Atlanta, 99-96

By Rex Alba

CLEVELAND -- Collin Sexton fired 19 points and Darius Garland added 15 to help the Cleveland Cavaliers rebound from its awful preseason debut in Chicago to beat the Hawks, 99-96, in front of 16,888 fans at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. 

Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro also combined for 24 points and eight rebounds while Lauri Markannen chipped in 11 as Cleveland entered the win column 24 hours after getting mauled by the Bulls, 131-95, at the United Center.

The Cavs shot 44.2 percent from the field (34-of-77) and 9-of-30 from 3 (30 percent) to compensate for another sloppy effort where they coughed up 21 turnovers against 23 assists.

But regardless of how it looks, a win is a win. And head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who coached the Memphis Grizzlies before taking over the helm in Cleveland in 2019, was extremely pleased with the fine defensive play of rookie Evan Mobley who helped limit the Hawks to just 39.6 shooting from the field (36-of-91).

"His defensive instincts are extremely unique for a player his age and experience level," said the 42-year old Bickerstaff, the son of longtime NBA head coach and team executive Bernie Bikerstaff.

The 20-year old Mobley was taken by the Cavs as the third overall pick in this years's NBA draft.  He is a 7-foot, 215 pound big from powerhouse University of Southern California, the same college that produced DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, who are now both with the Chicago Bulls.

Cam reddish sprung off the bench to lead the host Hawks with 20 points. Jayson Collins had 14 points and 8 rebounds while Gorgui Dieng accounted for 13.   

Superstar point guard Trae Young sat out with an injured quad. 

Up next for the Cavaliers is a home game against the Indiana Pacers at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in downtown Cleveland. (RA)

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