Hawks-Raptors Preview

Lengthy road trips are obviously difficult with the travel and

having to playing on opponents’ home courts, but the Atlanta Hawks

aren’t flinching.

The Hawks look to win four times on a five-game trip for the

first time in more than 40 years when they face the Toronto Raptors

on Tuesday night.

Atlanta (15-6) has posted victories over Milwaukee, Detroit and

New Orleans while losing to San Antonio on a trip which began last

Monday. The Hawks haven’t won four games on a five-game trip since

going 5-0 from Dec. 8-14, 1968. They’ve had 16 five-game road

swings since.

“It’s just a road mentality,” point guard Jeff Teague said

after a 94-72 win in New Orleans on Sunday. “It’s tough to beat

somebody at their home, so you come in and you have to be fully

focused and ready, and we’re doing that.”

The Hawks won both games in Toronto last season and have taken

four of their last five games at Air Canada Centre.

Teague, whose status against the Hornets was uncertain after he

left Friday’s game against Detroit with a sprained left ankle,

started Sunday and matched a career high with 24 points. Big games

from Teague usually bode well for the Hawks, who are 11-1 when he

scores at least 13 points and 4-5 when he doesn’t.

“We’ve been constantly on him about just being aggressive and he

did that,” reserve Willie Green said. “He set the tone for us. He

does a good job of getting guys involved and sometimes he has to be

aggressive. We just want him to be able to do all of that and

that’s a lot to ask, but he’s just getting better.”

Teague scored 13 in a 93-84 home win over the Raptors on Jan.

16, Atlanta’s fifth straight victory in the series. Josh Smith led

the way with 28 points and a season-high 15 rebounds while Joe

Johnson added 27 points.

Johnson, who leads the Hawks with 18.6 points per game, has

averaged 30.0 in his last three games against Toronto.

The Raptors (7-14) have lost their last three home contests and

are 2-5 at Air Canada Centre on the season, but they’ve been

playing better basketball lately.

Toronto is returning home after winning three of the final four

contests on a five-game trip, which concluded with a 94-73 victory

over New Jersey on Sunday. The Raptors shot 51.5 percent – making

more than half their shots for only the second time all season –

while holding the Nets to 36.5 percent shooting and allowing their

lowest point total of 2011-12.

“The guys played like they believe,” coach Dwane Casey said.

Toronto outscored New Jersey 50-34 after halftime with DeMar

DeRozan leading the charge, as he had 19 of his season-high 27

points in the second half.

The Raptors have leaned on DeRozan more with Andrea Bargnani

sidelined because of a left calf strain, but the 6-foot-7 guard has

been inconsistent. In the 10 games since Bargnani originally

injured his calf, DeRozan has averaged 20.8 points and 48.6 percent

shooting in five contests but 9.6 points and 24.0 percent in the

other five.

“He’s too athletic and too quick to not get to the rim,” Casey


DeRozan had 10 points and went 5 of 17 from the field in Atlanta

two weeks ago. Leandro Barbosa had a team-high 22 points in that

contest but sat out for the first time this season Sunday with a

sore left ankle. He is listed as day to day.