TORONTO — On a day when individual excellence was being celebrated, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was preaching team success.
While praising Kyle Lowry for his second straight trip as a starter to the NBA all-star game, Casey made a point of talking up his point guard’s supporting cast.
DeMar DeRozan, Lowry’s backcourt partner, could be added next week when the lineups for the Feb. 14 game in Toronto are fleshed out by the league’s coaches.
Casey said two possible all-star selections should empower the rest of his squad.
"It should give us some confidence to know that those other guys helped them get that," Casey said after the Raptors’ shootaround ahead of Friday night’s game with the injury-riddled Miami Heat.
"They allowed them to play. They supported them. They were teammates. They set screens for them. They spaced. They made passes to them. They received passes from them. So without those other guys in the locker-room, they couldn’t have made it … It takes all 15 guys in the locker-room to do it."
"I wouldn’t be here without my teammates … Especially DeMar," he said. "That man’s an all-star.
"At the end of the day, he’s an all-star."
Casey said he already has and will keep lobbying for DeRozan to make the all-star game.
The Toronto coach praised the 29-year-old Lowry, who came to Toronto in a 2012 trade from Houston, for his hard work, tenacity and heart.
"He wasn’t an all-star when he first got here but he’s made himself into an all-star," Casey said.
Casey also pointed to Toronto’s improved play in recent years as helping raise Lowry’s profile.
"If we’re bottom of the barrel, he’s not an all-star probably," he said. "No matter how many points you score, there’s a lot of guys below that line that are not all-stars … There’s a lot of talented players in the NBA but they’re not winners.
"I think that’s what differentiates the all-stars versus some of the guys who are putting up big numbers."
Lowry will be joined in the Eastern starting lineup by Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Cleveland’s LeBron James, Indiana’s Paul George and New York’s Carmelo Anthony.
The Western starters are the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.
Vince Carter (2000-04) and Chris Bosh (2007-08) are the only other Raptors all-star starters.
Lowry, who was averaging career highs in points (20.9), rebounds (5.0) and steals (2.29) going into Friday’s game, thanked the fans for their support.
"I love our fans, man … It’s awesome that they can come together and do something like that," he said.
The late balloting surge elevated Lowry into the starting lineup with 646,441 votes.
Wade, named an all-star for the 12th time in 13 seasons, was the top Eastern vote-getter among guards with 941,466.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, whose season has been disrupted by injury, had 580,651 ahead of Chicago’s Jimmy Butler with 564,637 and DeRozan with 444,868.