Hawks-Raptors Preview

The Associated Press

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 said.

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.

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