Five observations from the Hawks’ 96-89 exhibition victory over the Pelicans Tuesday.
1. For the most part, the Hawks starters played well together. Dennis Schroder, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard played just over 13 minutes together. The group played more than eight minutes to start the third quarter before they were done, as planned, for the night. They did a lot of the damage as the Hawks built a 23-point first half lead over a Pelicans team missing star Anthony Davis. Individually, the starters played between 22-24 minutes. Schroder and Korver scored 13 points each, Howard had 10 points and 11 rebounds, Millsap had eight points and Bazemore had seven points.
2. The Hawks are starting to settle on a rotation with the next-to-last exhibition game. Following the starters, Mike Muscala was the first substitute. He came in for Millsap, who was playing only his second preseason game in working back from a knee procedure. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer likes to use a 10-man rotation and the other reserves were Malcolm Delaney, Tim Hardaway Jr., Thabo Sefolosha and Kris Humphries. That could be some foreshadowing of what to expect early in the regular season.
3. Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to break out from a shooting slump. The guard led the Hawks in scoring against the Pelicans with 16 points. He was 7 of 10 from the field, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. After starting the preseason 3 of 30 from the field, Hardaway is now 16 of 55 and his 9.2 points per game average is fourth on the team.
4. The Hawks defense is showing signs of being as strong as it was last season. In six exhibition games, they have allowed 94.0 points per game. That is third-best in the league. They are also fourth in defensive rating. Howard has eight blocks in his four exhibition games, including three in Tuesday’s game.
5. There were two noteworthy collisions in the game. Budenholzer missed the second half after a sideline collision with Pelicans guard Langston Galloway. Budenholzer had surgery on a broken finger on his right hand and was in a soft cast. He did not return after the collision and experienced pain in his ribs. Howard dove into the scorer’s table in the third quarter chasing a loose ball. He came out unscathed. “I had got the rebound and lost it and I was trying to get it back,” Howard said. “I said, let me take a dive and see if I can get it. I was a little bit too late.”