Former Villanova star finally gets first NBA All-Star call

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It took nine seasons and three teams, but Kyle Lowry found his comfort zone.

And the Toronto Raptors couldn’t be happier.

Lowry — who played for two years at nearby Villanova before being taken with the 24thoverall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies – has morphed into one of the best point guards in the league.

Lowry has played for the Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. Since joining the Raptors in 2012-13, he has continued to develop at a rapid pace.

Now in his third season with the Raptors, the kid from Philadelphia is going to be a starting guard in the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden.

“I really appreciate it all now,” Lowry said. “If it would have happened before I would have appreciated it, but now, at 28 years old and in year nine, I think it’s just a testament of a great team and a great organization and a group of guys who I get along with. For me to represent them at this time is perfect. I’m very excited about the whole situation.”

Lowry is averaging 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors (33-15).

More than that, he’s become a true team leader in every way imaginable.

“The great thing about it is where Kyle has grown as a player and the work he has put in, what he’s done over the past couple of years,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s a big part of where we’ve come from to what we are right now. He’s been a huge part of that of that transformation. He’d be the first to tell you it has a lot to do with his teammates to where he is right now helping us win. My hat is off to him. It’s not only a credit to be an All-Star but to be a starter.”

When the Raptors visited the Wells Fargo Center last month, it looked as if they were going to fall to the 76ers.

Toronto came out with little energy and struggled mightily.

In the fourth quarter, Lowry refused to accept a road loss. He scored 17 of his 21 points in the final 12 minutes, including a couple of highly-difficult 3-pointers, and willed the Raptors to a five-point win.

“I just didn’t want us to lose,” Lowry said. “I think my teammates were 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.”

Sixers guard Michael Carter-Williams, the reigning Rookie of the Year, did his best to shut down Lowry. The All-Star was simply too good on that night.

“I thought I did a pretty good job of containing him throughout the game,” Carter-Williams said. “In the fourth quarter, he made tough shots. The best thing you can do is contest them. He got to the line. He knocked down free throws but those threes were big. They were tough shots and there is a reason why he is a starting All-Star. I love playing against guys like that. It is great to test your skills.”

That’s exactly what Lowry will do in the All-Star Game. It’s been a long and winding road since his days on the Main Line. The finish line makes the whole journey worth it.

“I’m so proud and excited to be representing the Raptors and more than that, my hometown of Philadelphia,” Lowry said. “I can’t wait.”

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