No sympathy for Hawks

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Having tried to psyche themselves up game after game to beat teams ahead of them in a near impossible playoff drive, tonight the Raptors are in the rare position of getting dangerously overconfident.

The Atlanta Hawks, who visit the Air Canada Centre tonight, aren't throwing much of a scare into anyone in the NBA these days, last in the league and winless in more than a month.

Just the kind of team the Raptors should be worried about as they try for a sweep of this week's three-game homestand to sustain their playoff hopes.

"Our coach is always telling us 'there's no mercy in this league,' " Chris Bosh said yesterday after practice. "(Atlanta) having a tough road record is all the more reason for us to win."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell hopes to get the same results tonight as Wednesday's 106-96 win over the Orlando Magic, when seven men were in double figures in scoring. When asked to comment on forward Matt Bonner's efforts (14 points), Mitchell refused to dish out individual praise.

"I don't sit around trying to analyse every guy, I just care about how the team is doing," he said. "We had a lot of balanced scoring (Wednesday). If we do that, it makes us tough to defend."

Guard Jalen Rose warned the Hawks can surprise opponents.

"They've been playing well up until the last few minutes of a game and that's what normally happens when you have a team that's struggling," he said. "Obviously we are not in position to feel sympathy for anyone. It's not a situation where we can look at their record and think this will just be a walkover game. They have a lot of young guys like Al Harrington, who was a rookie with me in Indiana. I'm also a big fan of Josh Smith (slam-dunk champion)."

FAVOURITE SON

Bonner was asked when it sunk in that he had become a fan favourite in Toronto.

"When I got kicked out of the game for fouling (Minnesota Timberwolves') Kevin Garnett," the red-headed rookie said of the December dust-up. "The whole (ACC) was going crazy and I had goosebumps. I don't remember what happened after the foul because I had so much adrenaline flowing through me from everybody cheering. It was awesome."


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