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Hawks take out Pelicans in home dress rehearsal

Atlanta’s starting unit made its preseason debut in a win over the Pelicans.

New Orleans Pelicans v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up the home portion of their preseason schedule on Tuesday with a 96-89 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The game came off as a dress rehearsal of sorts with the starting unit seeing the floor together for the first time this preseason. It was eventful as well. Atlanta escaped the game with no injuries to any players but finished the game without head coach Mike Budenholzer who left the game following a collision with Pelicans’ guard Langston Galloway.

“First of all, I want to say that Coach Bud is doing great,” assistant coach Darvin Ham told reporters following the game. “He took a nasty, nasty spill. All in all, he’s fine. His wrist and hand didn’t get hurt. His wrist got a little touched up, but overall, he’s doing well.”

Budenholzer was coaching with a soft cast on his right hand following finger surgery.

Budenholzer’s injury aside, the Hawks came away pleased with their effort against New Orleans, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

“In terms of the game, defensively, holding them to 38-percent from the field, 29-percent from three, was great,” Ham said. “We forced them into 17 turnovers, and getting 18 off those turnovers. We pride ourselves defensively on a lot of activity from our smalls, from our bigs, helping on the backside, cleaning up the rebounds. We’re very pleased with that.”

Ham added that the only negative he and the rest of the staff saw was in terms of transition defense. New Orleans outscored Atlanta 16-4 in fast break points.

“The one negative I would say was 16-4 in transition points,” Ham said. “Transition defense is our first line of defense. It’s something we take very seriously, whether in practice or a game. It’s something we focus on, work on, watch film on all the the time. That’ll be one area that we need to get some improvement on. We had a little bit of slippage, but we’ll alleviate that.”

Offensively, Atlanta was a bit of a mixed bag. They shot 42 percent from the field for the game but were just 6 of 21 from three-point range and 18 of 26 from the free throw line. They continue to wrack up assists which means the ball movement is good, but they have to knock down shots to take advantage.

“Offensively, Hawks basketball,” Ham added. “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.”

Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Dennis Schröder and Kyle Korver finished with 13 points while Dwight Howard added 10 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Howard was 3 for 10 from the field and 4-10 from the free throw line.

Paul Millsap played in his second preseason game and struggled a bit finishing with eight points, five rebounds and four assists while going 1 for 7 from the field in 24 minutes.

“It was great to see our starting five out there together today,” Ham said. 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 was all great. Today was a great rhythm for our guys.”

Atlanta will wrap up the preseason slate Thursday in Chicago.