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The Cavaliers washed the taste of a terrible loss in Chicago out of their mouths in impressive fashion on Wednesday night – clamping down on the Hawks to even their preseason mark at 1-1 before a pair of home contests on tap for the weekend.
Cleveland tips off their preseason home schedule on Friday night when they welcome the Pacers to town on Friday night. (They’ll wrap up the preseason against Rick Carlisle’s squad one week from tonight in Indy.)
On Wednesday night in Atlanta, the Wine & Gold was all business from the opening tip – and after back-and-forth action through the first three-and-a-half quarters, the Cavs took the lead for good on Ricky Rubio’s floater midway through the fourth. Overall, Cleveland limited the Trey Young-less Hawks to 40 percent shooting and took 13 more free throws. Collin Sexton led the starters with 19 points; Lauri Markkanen paced the reserves with 11.
Despite getting 63 combined points from their bench on Tuesday night, it wasn’t enough to slow down Julius Randle and the Knicks, who clobbered Indiana in their preseason opener at the Garden. Rookie Chris Duarte led the Pacers with 15 points and five assists in 19 minutes of work off the bench.
After welcoming the Pacers to town on Friday, the J.B. Bickerstaff’s squad gets a chance for some revenge on Sunday night when the Bulls roll into town on Sunday.
The Pacers took all three contests against the Cavaliers last season – including a double-digit loss last New Year’s Eve in Indiana and a pair of close affairs in Cleveland. In the long history of the two Central Division rivals, the Pacers lead the all-time series, 105-94, and have taken the last five straight.
Geoff Huston – who held the NBA’s single-game assist mark at 27 until Scott Skiles handed out 30 against the Nuggets in 1990 – holds the mark for most helpers handed out against the Pacers, dishing out 20 dimes in 1982. The Pacers top mark against the Cavaliers is also 20 assists – distributed by Jalen Rose back in 2001.
Both Dylan Windler and Darius Garland are Indiana natives – with Windler growing up right in Indianapolis (attending Perry Meridian High School) and Darius Garland growing up in Gary. And new Cavs assistant Sidney Lowe played with the Pacers during his rookie season out of North Carolina State in the 1983-84 season.
Cavs guard Kevin Pangos and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis both played collegiately at Gonzaga, both Malcolm Brogdon and Cavs Camp invitee both played their college ball at Virginia while forward Lauri Markkanen and Pacers guard T.J. McConnell both played for Arizona.