Lowry's big night boosts Raptors past Knicks

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TORONTO – After forward Rudy Gay was traded in early December, speculation heated up that point guard Kyle Lowry would be next to go.

Now the Toronto Raptors are wondering what they would do without him.

The 27-year-old had season bests with 32 points and eight rebounds and equaled his season high with 11 assists on Saturday night as the Toronto Raptors completed a back-to-back sweep of the New York Knicks with a 115-100 victory.

"Since he's been in the league, I think he's playing at the highest level I've seen," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "I remember when he was in Memphis, Houston. He's playing with such force and such confidence and playing the game the right way. He's been playing lights out."

Guard-forward Terrence Ross added 23 points for the Raptors (13-15), who followed their win on Friday over the Knicks in New York.

Forward Amar'e Stoudemire scored 23 points -- 20 in the second half -- to lead the Knicks (9-21), who have lost three in a row.

"We shot the ball well tonight, which I thought was a plus," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "But we are not going to win consistently until we defend and rebound. I've got to have our bigs in there banging a little bit more and demanding rebounds."

Guard DeMar DeRozan added 20 points for TORONTO and guard Greivis Vasquez chipped in with 11 points. Center Jonas Valanciunas had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Center Tyson Chandler added 16 points for the Knicks, forward J.R. Smith contributed 13 and guard Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 12.

Former Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani, who was booed every time he touched the ball, also scored 12 points for the Knicks but did not play in the fourth quarter because of a stiff neck. Guard Toure' Murry added 11 points.

"I don't have any thought about it," Bargnani said about the reaction to his return to Air Canada Centre.

Casey was impressed with how well Lowry responded when the trade rumors heated up.

"What am I going to do?" Lowry said. "It's my job. I'm not going to be mad. It is what it is. I'm really not worried about it. Until the day comes, I'm going to play for the Raptors and I'm going to play hard."

The Raptors took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter. Vasquez hit three 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the quarter to give TORONTO a 17-point lead. But Smith made a 3-pointer and Stoudemire scored on a dunk to cut the lead to 101-93 with 4:09 to play.

Chandler's dunk trimmed the lead to six. But Lowry made two free throws and a 3-pointer after Murry was charged with a flagrant foul, boosting the lead to 11, and the Raptors had command of the game.

"It was a five-point play," Woodson said. "With six points down and we get the flagrant and they turn around and make a 3 behind it. That was probably the biggest sequence of the game."

Bargnani said, "We came back, we fought hard. They shot the ball extremely well, they shot like 40-something from 3 (15 of 32 for 46.9 percent), so you have to give TORONTO credit for that. We've got to regroup and get everybody back healthy. That's the most important thing."

The Raptors took a 13-point lead into the second half, but the Knicks cut into that by scoring the first five points of the third quarter. A 3-point shot by Ross put the Raptors into a 14-point lead with 8:25 to play in the quarter. The lead was up to 21 points three minutes later after DeRozan's driving layup. The Raptors led 85-71 after three quarters.

The Knicks took a 34-32 lead on a pull-up jumper by Murry with 6:32 to play in the second quarter. But the Raptors went on a 12-0 run to take a 10-point lead with 4:12 to play and led 57-44 at halftime.

Lowry led the way with 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He extended his career-best streak of at least six assists in a game to 20. Ross also had 14 at the half for TORONTO.

Chandler led the Knicks with 12 first-half points.

TORONTO led 26-22 after the first quarter.

NOTES: F Carmelo Anthony (left ankle sprain), G Raymond Felton (groin strain), F Metta World Peace (left knee) and G Pablo Prigioni (toe fracture) did not play for the Knicks. ... The Raptors' back-to-back games against the Knicks started a stretch of 11 consecutive games against Eastern Conference opponents through Jan. 15. ... Knicks C Tyson Chandler played in his 800th career NBA game. ... The Raptors are 8-7 on the road after the win in New York on Friday and have won five of their last six away games. The last time the Raptors were above .500 on the road this late in the season was Feb. 25, 2008 (14-13). ... The Knicks begin a three-game trip to Texas when they visit the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 2. ... The Raptors' next game will be Dec. 31 when they visit the Chicago Bulls.

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