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doesnt matter how you get there
#1
PHILADELPHIA - Humbled by the honour he had received the night before, yet looking uncomfortable by the attention its already brought on, Kyle Lowry sat in the middle of a media tornado in his hometown of Philadelphia Friday morning. Brian ONeill Youth Jersey . After some deliberation with the teams public relations staff, the Raptors point guard did not make himself available for interviews after he was named an all-star starter Thursday, opting instead to enjoy the quiet evening with his family and teammates. That decision was not meant to diminish the appreciation he has for the fans that voted him in, vaulting him past 10-time all-star Dwyane Wade in the 11th hour, but was made with team solidarity in mind. It was true to character. Thats Lowry, the version weve come to know since he turned his career around in Toronto. Its what has allowed him to blossom into the ideal teammate and floor general, into an all-star. Well, that says a lot, Casey said, crediting Lowry ahead of Fridays 91-86 win in Philadelphia. He wanted to spend the time with his teammates, which was great. He did that last year with having the team over to his house for dinner. It just says something about his leadership and where his head is, as far as leadership and family. Mired in a month-long shooting slump, Lowry leaned on his teammates more than usual through three quarters in a dreary, back and forth contest with the lowly, eight-win 76ers. Hitting just two of his nine attempts after 36 minutes and with DeMar DeRozan also struggling, Lowry deferred until he had little choice but to take over. The Raptors came out flat on Friday, trailing 15-0 before scoring their first bucket. Despite a second-quarter run, they found themselves down by nine nearly halfway into the fourth. They hadnt scored a point in over five minutes when Lowry went off. The point guard bullied his way into the lane, earned and hit two free throws before knocking down his first three-ball of the night, followed by another, followed by a third. Lowry scored 13 straight Toronto points, forcing a tie with three minutes to go. He finished with 17 of his game-high 21 points in the frame, leading the Raptors to an ugly, but necessary, win. I just didnt want us losing tonight, the all-star guard said. I think my teammates were kind of counting on me and we needed somebody to pick up the energy and I felt like it was my time to pick up the energy and go out there and do my job. Outside of Lowrys late-game effort, the play of Patrick Patterson and glimpses from James Johnson and Greivis Vasquez, there werent many positives to take out of a flawed victory. Once again, Casey credited his point guard at the end of the night but that just about did it for his post-game praise. It was the most livid the Raptors coach had been after a game this season, let alone a win. He was not amused. Thank God for Kyle because we didnt play any kind of basketball whatsoever tonight, Casey said with a stern look on his face. Questions went in one ear and out the other, he knew exactly what he wanted to get out. Thats totally unacceptable the way we approached the game, he continued. Im happy with the win, Im glad Kyle put us on his shoulders and took us home and, again, no disrespect to Philadelphia because those young kids came out and took us to the woodshed. Weve got to make up our minds that were serious about earning our paycheques twice a month. Toronto has been held under 100 points in each of the past five games, the longest such stretch of this season. Over that span, theyre shooting 40 per cent from the field, 24 per cent from three, recording 88 assists to go along with 80 turnovers. Lowry is at the forefront of their shooting slide, hitting just 36 per cent of his jumpers during the month of January but, as he did on Friday, continues to find a way to put his stamp on the game. I just feel like we need every win we can get, he said. We cant let games like this slip away from us. Thats a hard playing team but weve got a bigger goal and we have to make sure we continue to grow. This is one of those games youd look at in April and say, damn we gave that one up. And in the midst of adversity, he hasnt turned his back on the others in their room. Hes remained even-keeled throughout. Of course, that hasnt always been the case. Lowry has never been called a bad teammate, per se, but to his own admission, he mostly kept to himself until being traded to Toronto, and for a year or so after that. He made sure to do his job, go home and come back the next day, with very little extra-curricular activity. When the light flipped on, it didnt take long for his career to take off, though his transformation didnt happen overnight. A lot went into his maturation as a player, person and leader - age, experience, marriage and fatherhood and, for the first time in his nine-year career, the right fit. After the Raptors traded Jose Calderon (for Rudy Gay), Lowry no longer had to look over his shoulder. When they traded Gay less than a year later, he no longer had to curb his playing personality. He could be himself, on and off the floor. I think I definitely appreciate it, Lowry said now that hes able to cross all-star off his checklist. If I had it before, I would have appreciated it [too]. But now, 28-years-old, in year nine, I think its a testament to a great team and a great organization and a group of guys who I get along with. So for me to represent them, at this time, its perfect. His path is unique, but not unprecedented. Steve Nash didnt become an all-star until his sixth year. Chauncey Billups, Lowrys close friend and mentor, wasnt named to the team until his ninth season, same as Lowry. I talked to [Billups] last night, Lowry said. Hes one of the guys I give a lot of credit to. It just takes time. You cant rush it and when its meant to be, it happens. The progression and growth in my career and his career is kind of similar. Its very eerie. Weve got the same agent, were close friends and I look at him as a big brother. The progression and the work thats been put in, it pays off. Some guys do it at different speeds, Casey added. But it doesnt matter how you get there as long as you get there. I think thats where Kyle is in his career. Another Lineup Change With Terrence Ross coming off the bench for a third straight game, Casey pulled the trigger on another lineup change to begin the second half. Amir Johnson started the third quarter on the pine as Patrick Patterson took his place with the first unit. Johnson logged just seven minutes, scoring two points in the second half after a scoreless effort in 10 minutes during the first half.
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#2
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#3
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