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Third quarter burst leads Hawks over Pelicans in preseason opener

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Things got fun in the third.

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks began their five-game preseason run on Monday evening, with the friendly confines of McCamish Pavilion as the backdrop of a contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. In the end, the final score was 116-102 but, of course, there was plenty of action along the way.

As with any preseason game, expectations should be tempered but there were plenty of bright spots in the first half. John Collins zoomed to 8 of the first 12 points (more from him later) but it was DeAndre’ Bembry that stole some of the headlines with quality play.

The third-year wing started the evening with five consecutive made field goals, creating his own offense and playing within the system with effectiveness.

Bembry was also the beneficiary of a strong drop-off pass from Jeremy Lin, making his debut in a Hawks uniform.

From there, Collins was the headliner before halftime, leading the way with 16 points and bringing down the house with the best highlight.

The Hawks did struggle in an overall sense, particularly in the area of offensive efficiency. Atlanta scored at a rate of only 87.8 points per 100 possessions prior to halftime and rookie Trae Young missed 10 of his 11 field goal attempts. Still, Young did generate six first-half assists and, in general, the Hawks accomplished what they wanted to accomplish in terms of playing with energy and pace.

Though a caveat should be inserted in that the Pelicans removed both Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday during the halftime break, Atlanta played quite well in the third period. The Hawks put together a 16-4 spurt to begin the third and quality work existed across the board, including from Young at the helm and from Alex Poythress in a small-ball center role.

All told, the Hawks bludgeoned the Pelicans by a 37-14 margin in the third quarter and that was the difference in the win-loss result of the evening. Obviously, there are other considerations in an exhibition setting but, in the grand scheme, Atlanta performed reasonably well.

From a player standpoint, Bembry (20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Collins (18 points in 20 minutes) and Poythress (13 points, 5 rebounds) led the way, with Young (11 points, 8 assists), Prince (8 points, 7 rebounds) and others in support. The Hawks will now have three days off before continuing the preseason on Friday with a road tilt against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Stay tuned.