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Lowry scores 33 as Raptors beat Magic 98-83
TORONTO 98, ORLANDO 83

By IAN HARRISON
Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -- With his second straight 30-point performance,
Kyle Lowry made a final case for his All-Star credentials.

Now he'll wait and see whether it's enough to take him to New
Orleans.

Lowry scored a season-high 33 points and dished out 11 assists,
Amir Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Toronto
Raptors beat Orlando 98-83 on Wednesday night, their fifth
straight victory over the Magic.

Lowry will find out Thursday whether his strong play has been
good enough to earn him his first All-Star nod. NBA coaches
turned in their votes Tuesday, and the reserves will be
announced in a televised special before the Knicks host
Cleveland.

"I keep my fingers crossed that the coaches voted him in because
he deserves it," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Right now he's
one of the best point guards in the league."

For his part, Lowry said he's not holding his breath about a
debut All-Star appearance.

"I would be very honored, it would be a great accomplishment,"
he said.

Lowry, who had seven rebounds, matched his season best with six
3-pointers. He came within three points of matching his
career-high of 36, set Feb. 16, 2011, against Philadelphia, when
he played for Houston.

"Kyle is an unbelievable player," Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez
said. "He's doing great things."

Vasquez may share a locker room with Lowry, but said he'd
consider him an All-Star no matter what jersey he wore.

"He should make it, that's all I can tell you," Vasquez said.
"It's not because I'm his teammate. The numbers don't lie."

Lowry also topped 30 points in back-to-back games for the first
time. He had 31 in Monday's 104-103 win at Brooklyn.

"He looked like an All-Star tonight," Orlando's Tobias Harris
said. "He just picked us apart in the pick and roll."

Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 15 rebounds and Terrence
Ross scored 12 as the Raptors, who never trailed, won for the
fourth time in five games.

At least one Raptors player has scored 30 or more in each of the
past five games. DeMar DeRozan had a career-high 40 in a Jan. 22
win over Dallas and 34 in a Jan. 24 win at Philadelphia while
Ross scored a career-high 51 in last Saturday's loss to the Los
Angeles Clippers.

Nikola Vucevic returned from a 12-game absence following a
concussion with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jameer Nelson
scored 13 as the slumping Magic lost their third straight
overall and their 10th straight on the road. Orlando is an
NBA-worst 3-21 away from home and has not won on the road since
an 83-82 victory at Chicago on Dec. 16.

Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said he was pleased with the way
Vucevic performed in his 21 minutes.

"It looked like his wind was pretty good," Vaughn said. "He
looked very similar to the Nik that we're accustomed to seeing."

Victor Oladipo scored 12 for the Magic and Arron Afflalo had 10.

Vasquez started for the Raptors in place of DeRozan. Toronto's
leading scorer missed his second straight game after injuring
his left foot when he landed awkwardly after taking a jump shot
against the Clippers. DeRozan will travel with the Raptors on a
five-game road trip that begins Friday at Denver.

"We can't really have him out too long," Vasquez said of
DeRozan. "We need him."

Also absent for Toronto was forward Patrick Patterson, who
suffered a broken nose Saturday, but scored the winning basket
in Monday's win at Brooklyn. Patterson underwent a procedure
Tuesday to re-set the break.

Johnson limped off with a sore right ankle after fouling Oladipo
under the Toronto basket at 2:17 of the fourth. Johnson was
wincing as he got up and needed assistance walking to the locker
room, but said afterward that he was fine.

Lowry scored 17 points in the first, going 5 for 5 from 3-point
range, and the Raptors made all eight of their long range
attempts to lead 33-20 after one.

"He set the tone in the first half with his 3s," Casey said of
Lowry. "His aggressive play means a lot. His veteran leadership
out there on the court, you can't say enough."

The eight 3-pointers in a single quarter tied the franchise
high. Toronto also had eight 3-pointers in one quarter on Nov.
6, 2009, at New Orleans.

Vasquez extended Toronto's hot shooting streak with another 3
early in the second before finally missing from outside at 9:18.
Toronto's previous streak of nine consecutive made 3-pointers
came Feb. 27, 2005, against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson and Steve Novak each scored six points in the second as
Toronto led 55-40 at halftime.

Lowry scored 13 points in the third and Johnson added eight as
Toronto took an 80-65 lead into the fourth.

NOTES: Valanciunas was selected to play in the Rising Stars
Challenge at All-Star weekend. ... Raptors F Tyler Hansbrough
returned after missing 14 games with a sore left ankle. ...
Toronto doesn't play at home again until Feb. 10 against New
Orleans.

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