Kyle Lowry could very well deserve his first All-Star selection after his recent hot streak has helped the Toronto Raptors take control in the weak Atlantic Division.
Lowry will look to help the Raptors extend their home winning streak to seven games when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Playing his best basketball of the season of late, Lowry is averaging 18.6 points and 8.1 assists since Dec. 28, helping Toronto (20-18) go 8-3 in that span and move four games ahead of second-place Brooklyn in the Atlantic.
Lowry has made over 50 percent of his 3-point attempts (36 for 71) in those 11 games, which ranks second among guards with seven or more starts during that time. His 3.43 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season also ranks among the best in the NBA.
"He's playing at a high level," coach Dwane Casey said. "He's been a positive leader, he's doing the right things ... I'm going to keep preaching for him to keep getting All-Star consideration."
Lowry had 24 points, six assists and five rebounds to lead the Raptors to a 94-89 home victory over Minnesota on Friday. The guard hit a season-high six 3-pointers in a 7-for-12 effort from the field.
"I feel good," said Lowry, who had 23 points and eight assists in a 106-94 road win over the Lakers on Dec. 8. "I'm just happy my team is winning, that's all that matters."
The Raptors have been one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference over the last month, going 11-4 since Dec. 20. That includes the 6-0 mark at home, where they have outscored opponents by 15.4 points. The winning streak at Air Canada Centre is the team's longest since an eight-game run from Jan. 17-Feb. 10, 2010.
"I'm not satisfied, and I don't think the players are," Casey said. "There's a lot of areas where we can get people. A lot of people are saying we are the hunted, but we can't be the hunted. We're the hunter, we are still the underdog."
Toronto's chances to extend the streak appear good against the slumping Lakers (15-25), who won for only the second time in 14 games with a 107-104 comeback victory at Boston on Friday - the second stop during their season-high seven-game road trip.
Pau Gasol led five players in double figures with 24 points to go with 13 rebounds, while point Kendall Marshall had 19 points and 14 assists. The victory snapped the team's seven-game road losing streak.
"We still have to do better," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Let's not get carried away. It is one night and let's see if we can repeat it."
An issue for the Lakers this season has been allowing opponents to score near the basket. Los Angeles ranks last in the league in points allowed in the paint at 48.8 per game. Over their last seven, the Lakers have allowed an average of 54.9.
The Lakers have won two of their last three in Toronto but lost 108-103 in their most recent visit on Jan. 20.