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Irving growing in leadership role
Cleveland coach Byron Scott believes Kyrie Irving's evolution into an All-Star involves more than improvement on the court. "He's starting to [understand] the leadership role," Scott said. "He's understanding what it takes to be a leader as far as communicating with his teammates and making his teammates better. That's the next level for him ... [and] he's well on his way."
Heat back to their winning ways
After losing in Utah two weeks ago, Miami won four straight. The Heat are back on track after struggling a bit early in the season. "We're just trying to get better each game," said coach Erik Spoelstra. "The thing about an 82-game season is you're dealt a lot of different challenges. The important thing is managing those ups and downs so they help you when it really counts."
Russian play helped Kirilenko's durability
It might surprise Jazz fans, but Andrei Kirilenko has been one of the most durable players this season for the injury-riddled Timberwolves. Kirilenko credits playing last year in Russia: "It's very different to play there a different schedule. You play twice a week. There is more time to prepare for games. The stress level is less. So the change really helped me."
Clippers coach gives credit to players
Coach Vinny Del Negro believes the Clippers can continue to be a top team if they keep playing well on the road, get significant contributions from others beside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and keep defending: "That's how you win in this league. You aren't always going to have a great night shooting the ball, but we've won some games with our defense."