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Hawks get starters together - and cruise to exhibition win (updated)

The Hawks finally got their starting lineup together.

It worked.

The Hawks led by as many as 23 points in a 96-89 exhibition victory over the Pelicans Tuesday night at Philips Arena.

The projected starting lineup of Dennis Schroder, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard played together for a total of 13:23 in the contest, including the first 8:29 of the third quarter. The group built the early lead and coasted. The group was done for the night after their third-quarter stint.

Schroder and Korver each had 13 points for the Hawks. Howard added 10 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two assists. Millsap finished with eight points and Bazemore had seven points.

The Hawks had their starters together but lost their coach in the second quarter. Mike Budenholzer had surgery to repair a broken finger on Monday and left the game after a sideline collision with the Pelicans’ Langston Galloway. Lead assistant Darvin Ham coached the rest of the game and addressed reporters following the contest.

“Offensively, Hawks basketball,” Ham said. “(We had) 25 assists on 36 field goals. That’s about where we want to be. We’re trending in the right direction in that department. It was great to see our starting five out there together today. I thought Paul and Dwight – the more and more they get together – with Paul’s passing abilities and Dwight’s ability to finish on the baseline and different areas, it was great.”

As well as the starters played together, Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Hawks with a strong shooting night. The guard, who has struggled early in the preseason with his shot, finished with a team-high 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. He had 12 first-half points.

“The ball moved really well for us,” Bazemore said. “Paul and Dwight’s chemistry is really good. They’re going to be passing the ball a lot to each other, especially Paul on short rolls. They looked really good tonight. Obviously, we still have some touching up to do.”

The Hawks (4-2) play their final exhibition game on Thursday against the Bulls in Omaha, Neb.

Terrence Jones led the Pelicans (1-4) with a game-high 18 points.

“I thought we did OK,” Howard said. “There are a couple things to work on but we were solid tonight. We can definitely get better. We just have to get a rhythm with each other. Preseason has been tough because Paul has been out a little bit. So he is trying to get his rhythm. I’m trying to learn all the plays and figure some things out. It’s going to take some time.”

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