Big journey ahead

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

Take that, you lousy Atlanta Hawks.

With their monumental 107-94 win over the visiting Miami Heat Sunday, the Raptors earned some much-needed momentum heading into a four-game road swing through the Pacific Division and left the Hawks as the only winless team in the NBA.

Yesterday, the folks at ESPN honoured the Raptors (1-9) for their win, moving them out of the 30th and last spot in their weekly power rankings for the first time this season. Atlanta (0-9) now resides in the basement while the Raptors are 29th.

Any bit of good news can't hurt a Raptors team preparing for a daunting journey, beginning tonight in Phoenix against Victoria's Steve Nash and the Suns.

"Hopefully, we can build off this for this road trip," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said in the aftermath of the win over the Heat. "It's a good way to start a road trip, a tough road trip, getting a win at home against a quality team."

The Heat lost in the Eastern Conference final last season after finishing on top of the conference's regular season standings. Coincidentally, the Suns lost in the Western Conference final last season after leading the NBA in the regular season.

What's more, the Suns (a disappointing 4-5), like the Heat, are missing one of their best players -- forward Amare Stoudemire (knee) and also lost another starter -- guard Leandro Barbosa -- to a knee injury on Saturday.

But overall, this will not be an easy jaunt for the Raptors. Remember, the Suns still have reigning NBA MVP Nash, who leads the league in assists this season.

The Raptors were 0-4 on the road last season against the teams they face this week. The schedule maker also didn't do the Raptors any favours as they play two sets of back-to-back games.

Tomorrow night, the Raptors face the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Clippers. Friday and Saturday, the Raptors meet the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors.

"The road is always tough, especially on the West Coast," Raptors star forward Chris Bosh said. "You have to just take it one game at a time and just focus in on each opponent. "We have to play a little bit tighter than we did (Sunday) because we'll be on the road. We have to control the tempo in each of the games and just continue doing the things we did (yesterday)."


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