Hawks have bonded

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Hawks' coach Mike Woodson isn't griping so far about playing so many games on the road to start the season, with his club away seven of the first 10.

Before meeting the Raptors last night, the 3-0 Hawks had won big games in New Orleans and Orlando, speeding up the bonding process that was deemed necessary after a tumultuous off-season.

Free agent Josh Childress chose to play in Greece and the team low-balled popular Josh Smith with a summer contract offer, then was forced to match one from Memphis that was almost $3 million a year higher.

The Hawks certainly have grabbed Toronto coach Sam Mitchell's attention.

"What are they, second or third in the league in defence?," Mitchell said. "Look what they did in the playoffs last year (giving the eventual champion Celtics a seven-game scare in the opening round). That gave them a lot of confidence.

This three-game swing will be the Raptors' longest regular season road trip since the wheels fell off out west last March with five straight losses. But Jamario Moon insists the team is in the proper frame of mind for such long trips this time.

"If we want to win games this year, we have to do well on the road," he said. "I'm not worried, we can play with anyone on the road, even the '92 Dream Team."

PARKER'S HEAVY WORKLOAD

Coach Sam Mitchell smiled knowingly when he thought of the defensive workload that shooting guard Anthony Parker is going to get on this road trip, starting last night with Atlanta's slippery Joe Johnson. "His reward for that is (Charlotte's) Jason Richardson, then his reward for that is (Celtics') Paul Pierce," Mitchell said. "Sometime after that (at the end of the month) comes Kobe Bryant."


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