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Dwight Howard leads Hawks to 99-93 win over Cavaliers in Unity Game

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The first night in Philips Arena went... okay?

NBA: Preseason-Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After a loss in San Antonio on Saturday evening, the Atlanta Hawks played in front of their home crowd for the first time on Monday evening. In the end, the team was successful on the scoreboard with a 99-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The night began in glorious fashion for the Hawks, as the Unity Game festivities were followed up by a 16-2 run at the outset. While Atlanta would certainly cool off, Dwight Howard was firmly in the fix, scoring 10 points in the first quarter while acting as the best player on the floor.

From there, Howard wasn’t done, as he finished the first half with eye-popping numbers. Though his production was (greatly) aided by the fact that he was guarded by the likes of James Jones, Jonathan Holmes and Cory Jefferson, Howard produced 23 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks prior to halftime and he was, frankly dominant.

Elsewhere, the Hawks did struggle to an 0-for-11 output from three-point distance, but aside from that, it was a positive 24 minutes. Cleveland’s short-handed offense shot just 34% from the floor before halftime, and all of those factors combined to provide the home team with a 53-45 lead that felt significantly larger.

That eight-point advantage would not last long in the second half, though, and the Cavaliers actually took a lead in the early stages of the closing period. Then, Thabo Sefolosha knocked down two triples (!!!) within a handful of possessions and, from there, the Hawks were able to pull away a bit (with the help of rookies Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry) on the way to the final result of 99-93.

On a night with some positives (headlined by Howard early in the game), there were some concerns as well. The offense did not fully click in terms of spacing, as Kyle Korver did not contribute the team’s first three until late in the third period on the way to a combined team showing of 2-19 from beyond the arc.

From a player perspective, it was the second straight rough outing from Tim Hardaway Jr. (1-7 FG, 0-4 3-PT) and both Mike Scott and Malcolm Delaney (0-for-11 combined) weren’t exactly lights-out. Still, it is (very) early and the Hawks turned it on when it mattered to gain a largely inconsequential victory.

Stay tuned as the Hawks take on the Detroit Pistons at home on Thursday evening.