TORONTO — Victor Oladipo will participate in All-Star weekend in New Orleans.
The Orlando Magic guard is one of 18 rookies and second-year players who have been chosen to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 14 at New Orleans Arena.
"It's going to be really, really, really amazing," Oladipo said Wednesday, before the Toronto Raptors beat the Magic 98-83 at Air Canada Centre.
"For my mom and my sisters to be there, it's going to be a fun experience for them. It's going to be a fun experience for me. It's just going to be a blessing. It's going to be a good time, and hopefully I'll just keep building on that so I can play on Sunday [in an All-Star Game in the future]."
For the third consecutive year, rookies and second-year players will be mixed on teams together.
Other players selected for this year's Rising Stars Challenge include Philadelphia 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams and second-year players Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Back in the lineup
Center Nik Vucevic played for the first time since he suffered a concussion on Jan. 6.
Although coach Jacque Vaughn expected to limit Vucevic's minutes, Vucevic was in the team's starting lineup.
Vucevic had missed 12 consecutive games because of the concussion. He was eager to play.
"It'll feel good," Vucevic said before tipoff. "It's been a while. Just being out there with my teammates — finally — and play and compete will be fun. I missed it. It was no fun to be out of the game and just watch."
Andrew Nicholson knows Air Canada Centre and Toronto better than any other player on the Orlando Magic roster.
The second-year power forward grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, a city that borders Toronto, and attended lots of Raptors games as a youngster.
On Wednesday, Nicholson returned to the arena for the third time since he was picked in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Nicholson didn't enter the game until 3:17 remained in the fourth quarter and the Raptors were well on their way to a win.
When Nicholson was introduced, many in the crowd cheered.
Canadian basketball is in the midst of a renaissance of sorts.
The Raptors are having their best season in years.
Eight Canadians dotted NBA rosters when this season began: Joel Anthony, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, Cory Joseph, Steve Nash, Kelly Olynyk, Robert Sacre, Tristan Thompson and Nicholson.
More players are on the way to the pros: University of Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins and Syracuse University point guard Tyler Ennis are Canadian, too.
Nicholson played for Canada's national team in the FIBA Americas Championship last summer, alongside Anthony, Joseph and Thompson.
"Definitely a bright future," Nicholson said. "We're going to play with each other during the summertime, just build a great team chemistry."
Nicholson would love to represent Canada in the Summer Olympics one day.
For now, though, he's trying to earn consistent playing time for the Magic.
His role has diminished as the season has progressed. The return of Glen Davis, a natural power forward, from injury in late November curtailed Nicholson's minutes. The three-guard lineup Vaughn often uses also has limited Nicholson's minutes.
Including Wednesday's game, Nicholson is averaging just 10.1 minutes per game this month — the fewest minutes in any month of his pro career.
Vaughn remains reluctant to match Nicholson against agile power forwards.
Vaughn deflected a question in which he was asked what Nicholson needs to do to earn more minutes.
“I just think the amount of bigs that we have, you take a game like New Orleans [on Sunday], where going into the game my plan was to play Andrew,” Vaughn said. “They go small with [playing Darius] Miller, and that kind of extirpated Andrew’s minutes.”
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