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Millsap returns to Hawks’ starting lineup

After some discussion, Paul Millsap returned to the Hawks starting lineup.

The power forward started against the Cavaliers Sunday afternoon after coming off the bench twice and resting once in his return from a knee injury.

Millsap missed eight straight games with left knee synovitis. He came off the bench in games against the Nets and Celtics, playing 26 and 29 minutes respectively. He did not play in Friday’s game at the Cavaliers, the second of back-to-back games.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said the starting forward was to be determined in his pregame availability. However, Millsap was submitted with the starters an hour before tipoff.

“We are still trying to manage Paul and building him back up and building his loads,” Budenholzer said before the game.

While Millsap returned to the starting lineup, Kent Bazemore continued to come off the bench since his return from injury. Bazemore missed five games with a right knee bone bruise. He has played four games since, all off the bench, and also sat out Friday’s game.

Tim Hardaway has excelled in the starting lineup since he stepped in following injuries to Thabo Sefolosha and Bazemore. Hardaway has started the past 10 games and averaged 18.1 points in the stint including five 20-point games.

Budenholzer would not commit to keeping Hardaway in the starting lineup through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

“I wouldn’t say that we have decided that,” Budenholzer said. “I’ve been very impressed. I think Baze is in a good place in his role and how he is helping us off the bench so I don’t want to paint Baze, Tim or myself into a corner.”

Rookie Taurean Prince remained in the starting lineup as Sefolosha missed his eighth straight game with a right groin strain. Dennis Schroder (right mid-foot strain) and Dwight Howard (rest) also returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the 114-110 win over the Cavaliers Friday.

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