Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lowry sparks Raptors again

TORONTO—For the second-straight night, Toronto Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry stated his case as an NBA all-star.
But even after pouring in a game-high 33 points in a convincing win over the Orlando Magic, Lowry was managing expectations ahead of today’s announcement of the reserves for next month’s game.

“I would be very honoured. It would be a great individual accomplishment,” Lowry said when asked if the NBA coaches’ decision mattered to him.
“But at the end of the day, it’s just another day for me.”
Even though many would argue Lowry deserves a spot in New Orleans, he’s widely expected to be snubbed—a victim of a perceived abrasive personality rather than anything to do with his play.
His play spoke volumes again yesterday. Lowry had 11 assists to go with his 33 points in the Raptors’ 98-83 win before 17,694 fans at Air Canada Centre.
It was Lowry’s second-consecutive 30-plus point performance—a career first. The feat is even more impressive because it’s come in the absence of injured DeMar DeRozan, another potential all-star.
“He’s stepped it up,” Toronto head coach Dwane Casey said of Lowry, who hit all five of his three-point attempts in the first quarter as the Raptors built a 33-20 lead and led all the way.
“I keep my fingers crossed that the coaches voted him in because he deserves it,” Casey added.
“I feel like both guys [Lowry and DeRozan] deserve it because right now he’s one of the best point guards in the league.”
Lowry, who had 31 points in a win over the Nets in Brooklyn on Monday night, set the tone by opening the scoring with a 26-foot jump shot 58 seconds into the game to make it 3-0.
The Raptors led from there—winning their second-straight game and fourth in five.
“We’re just getting better and we’re grinding it out every day,” Lowry noted.
Amir Johnson added 22 points and 11 rebounds while Jonas Valanciunas, the second-year centre picked earlier yesterday to suit up in the Rising Stars Challenge at the all-star weekend in New Orleans next month, added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Raptors.
The win moved Toronto (24-21) three games above .500 for the first time this season.
The Raptors, who lead the NBA’s Atlantic Division by three games over Brooklyn, were 16-29 after 45 games last season on their way to missing the playoffs for a fifth-straight year.
“We are hungry and we want to win every game we play,” said Johnson, who sat in front of his locker after the game with each foot in a bucket of ice nursing an ankle he rolled.
“Nobody has an agenda on this team, everybody is sharing the ball,” he stressed.
Johnson also said it would be “awesome” for Lowry to get his first career all-star nod.
“He’s become our all-star and one of the main reasons why we have been so successful winning these games,” he reasoned.
Facing the NBA’s worst road team, the Raptors jumped on Orlando from the start.
Led by Lowry, Toronto matched a club record from November, 2009 with eight three-pointers in a quarter in the first, and hit 11 of their first 12 shots of the night from beyond the arc.
A stretch of nine-straight was the first time the team made that many consecutively since February, 2005 against the L.A. Lakers.
“We made shots. We spaced the floor well,” Lowry said.
The Raptors led by as many as 19 points.
Orlando (12-35) cut the lead to eight points with 7:20 to go in the third quarter, but that’s as close as they got on the way to losing their 10th-straight road game.
The Raptors now head out West on a tough, five-game road trip starting tomorrow in Denver.

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