CLEVELAND — John Beilein was soaked from his shirt to his socks after an unexpected shower.
Cleveland’s rookie coach had his pro basketball baptism.
Beilein picked up his first NBA win and got doused with water in the locker room by Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and the rest of the Cheap Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
, who played the kind of ball their rookie coach has been preaching for weeks in a 110-99 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
Thompson scored 25 points and made his first career 3-pointer and Love scored 21 and just missed a triple-double as the Cavs opened their 50th season at home with a solid win over a playoff team from last year.
Following the game, Beilein presented with the game ball by general manager Koby Altman before he was ambushed by the Cavs, who jumped from their seats and dumped water bottles over his head.
“Excuse my appearance,” the former Michigan coach said as he sat down for his news conference. “I just took a little bath.”
Beilein, who won at every level in college, said he’ll savour the memento from his first pro victory.
“I’m very fortunate to have a lot of game balls, but this one is going to be pretty special,” the 66-year-old said. “It’s an NBA ball No. 1, but anytime you change jobs like this it’s a very difficult time on your family, on you and everyone — it’s such a transition. It will be special.”
Cavs forward Larry Nance was thrilled for Beilein.
“It was awesome just to see him breathe a nice sigh of relief,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure on us, especially the home opener so for him to get this win. First win for a lot of the guys — all the rookies.
The Cavs began their golden anniversary by honouring the club’s past. They brought back some of their legendary players and wore uniforms from the 1990s while taking a look back their history.
The present looked more promising.
Love was much more involved than during an opening-night loss at Orlando on Wednesday, adding 13 rebounds and nine assists. Thompson also had 13 rebounds, Collin Sexton scored 18 and rookie Darius Garland 12, making a key, step-back 3-pointer down the stretch to slow Indiana’s comeback.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 30 and had 10 assists to lead the Pacers.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Markelle Fultz’s first show in Orlando was a big hit.
Fultz had 12 points and six assists, helping the Magic beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
“He was the difference in the game in the second half,” coach Steve Clifford said.
Fultz was selected by Philadelphia with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. The 21-year-old guard played 33 games in two seasons with the 76ers before he was traded to Orlando in February.
He was the first Magic player off the bench with 7:10 left in the first quarter. He made his first four shots.
“Anytime you have a chance to see the ball go in the hoop, the basket just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “It just gave me more confidence. It made me say: ‘Hey, it’s back. I’m good. Let’s just keep moving.’”
Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 21 points and nine rebounds. Evan Fournier scored 16 points.
Kevin Love had 11 points and 18 rebounds for Cleveland, which trailed by as many as 20 points. Collin Sexton and Tristan Thompson each scored 16 points in John Beilein’s first game as Cavs coach.
Darius Garland finished with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting in his NBA debut. Garland was drafted by Cleveland with the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Fournier scored to give Orlando a 53-33 lead with 2:37 left in the first half, but Cleveland battled back in the third quarter.
Sexton made a 3-pointer and Thompson had two straight buckets to trim the Magic’s lead to 59-54 with 7:31 left.
The Cavaliers were down 73-67 early in the fourth when Terrence Ross and Mo Bamba each made a 3 to help the Magic pull away.
“There were a few key moments when we had wide-open shots and missed them, and they had wide-open shots and made them,” Beilein said. “We get it to five and then all of a sudden it’s 12. Then we get it back to five or six and all of a sudden it’s 12 or 14.”
HOW TO GET BETTER
Beilein figures the Cavaliers will get better just by playing.
“There’s nothing like being in game shape,” Beilein said before the game. “How do you get in game shape? You play games. You’ll improve exponentially once you start playing games, and that’s where the improvement should really spike now.”
“We did a lot of good things, but the rebounding game was a problem,” Clifford said. “We haven’t rebounded in preseason and we didn’t rebound tonight. And turnovers. We were just really sloppy with the ball and that was really impacting how we play.”
Cavaliers: Love (18), Larry Nance Jr. (14) and Thompson (11) led Cleveland to a 54-46 rebounding edge. … Garland also had five assists.
Magic: Fultz shot 6 for 12. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts. … The Magic have won five of eight against the Cheap Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
since losing 17 straight.
The Cavs blitzed the Pacers to open second quarter, going on a 26-4 run. They made seven 3-pointers and outscored Indiana 39-20 in the period to open a 65-48 halftime lead.
“They pretty much did whatever they wanted,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “Giving up 39 points, you just can’t have quarters like that. They were the more aggressive team, the scrappier team.”
It was Thompson’s stunning 3-pointer in the first quarter that got the Cavs going.
Thompson, who has been working on his range in practice, hadn’t attempted a 3 since the 2016-17 season, when he pulled up and dropped a 27-footer — his first make from beyond the arc in 642 games.
“No way,” Beilein said with a smile when asked if Thompson will have the green light going forward.
Pacers: McMillian said injured All-Star G Victor Oladipo continues to progress as he recovers from knee surgery. He’s been scrimmaging, but hasn’t been cleared to play in full-court workouts. … G Jeremy Lamb sat out with a bruised right hip sustained in the season-opening loss to Detroit on Wednesday. He did some drills following shootaround, but was still feeling pain.
Cavaliers: Finalized a four-year, $30.8 million contract extension with F Cedi Osman, who scored just 1 point in 27 minutes. … F John Henson made his Cleveland debut after missing most of last season with a wrist injury sustained while with Milwaukee. Henson had been slowed this season by ankle and groin injuries.
McMillan was unhappy with his team’s rebounding. For the second straight game, the Pacers got pounded inside.
Detroit’s Andre Drummond had 23 rebounds in the opener.
Love wore a neck tie while warming up before the game to pay tribute to Fred McLeod, the club’s popular broadcaster who died unexpectedly in September. McLeod’s widow, Beth, sent ties from her husband’s collection to select players, coaches and media members to wear for the opener.
The Cavs showed a moving video during the first quarter with highlights from McLeod, who handled play-by-play duties for the Detroit Pistons before coming to the Cavs in 2006. Owner Dan Gilbert narrated the video. He suffered a stroke in May and has been recovering at home.