Cavs sit out stars as Dwight Howard leads Atlanta in dealing Cleveland first preseason loss
Dwight Howard was a beast in the paint with 26 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes for the Hawks. AP

DWIGHT Howard took full advantage of a Cavaliers team without its stars as Atlanta handed Cleveland its first preseason loss, 99-93, at the Philips Arena in Atlanta on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).

The new Hawks center, who moved to Atlanta from Houston in the offseason, had a game-high 26 points to go with eight rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. Thabo Sefolosha added 12 off the bench, while Mike Muscala and rookie Taurean Prince chipped in 10 apiece as Atlanta ended up with its second win in three preseason games.

The Cavaliers sat out all their stars and vets last season, except for James Jones, but still fought to a tie after three quarters before the Hawks turned it up in the final period.

Kay Felder and Jonathan Holmes each had 15 points to lead six Cleveland players in double digit scoring. Cory Jefferson had a double-double, finishing with 13 markers and 11 boards, while Jordan McRae and Jones added 12 apiece.

Cleveland lost its first preseason game in three outings.

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