ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have looked like a potential tough out in the playoffs while taking impressive wins over Houston, Indiana and Miami this month.
There's only one catch: All those wins came in Atlanta. The Hawks, who play at Orlando on Wednesday, must improve their dismal 6-13 road record if they are to be considered as a true postseason contender.
The Hawks, who are third in the Eastern Conference, snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Heat on Monday night. That win gave guard DeMarre Carroll, one of several newcomers to the Hawks, more reason to believe the road wins will come.
"I think we've just got to take the fight to the teams," Carroll said after Monday night's game. "We can't come out lackadaisical. That's just growing. We're all new as a team."
Entering Tuesday's games, Phoenix was the NBA's only other team to have an overall winning record and a losing mark (9-11) on the road.
The Hawks don't feel they have to make huge adjustments to have success on the road.
"There is no difference" in playing on the road, 14-year veteran Elton Brand said with a laugh following Tuesday's practice.
"Mentally, for us, the crowd, the noise, that's the difference. But there is no difference. And once we get that through our heads ..."
Brand then laughed again. He knows perception can be difficult to overcome, even for a team with a 15-6 home record, including the recent impressive string of wins against such playoff-bound teams as the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers and Heat.
Brand, Carroll, Paul Millsap and Pero Antic are among the veterans in their first seasons in Atlanta.
Brand and Antic have earned more minutes at center to help the Hawks remain competitive after losing All-Star Al Horford to a season-ending injury last month. Horford was the team's leading scorer and rebounder when he tore his right pectoral muscle on Dec. 26.