Dragic evolving as leader for Heat

by

January 21, 2017
Minnesota Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns (left) shoots as Los Angeles Clippers forward Wesley Johnson, (right), defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, on Thursday in Los Angeles. The Timberwolves won 104-101. (AP Photo)
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (centre), tangles with Denver Nuggets' Juancho Hernangomez (left), of Spain, and Jameer Nelson during the second half of an NBA basketball game, on Thursday in San Antonio. San Antonio won 118-104. (AP Photo)
Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris (right), and New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (left), compete for control of the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday in New York. (AP Photo)
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (right) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry during the second half of an NBA basketball game, on Thursday in Miami. Dragic had 32 points as the Heat defeated the Mavericks 99-95. (AP Phot0)
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MIAMI, (AP):

Goran Dragic has already been mentioned in trade rumours, and it's quite reasonable to think that will continue over the next few weeks.

His opinion on all that is clear: He wants to stay in Miami for a long time.

And the way he's playing now, the Heat probably aren't eager to lose their point guard.

In a season filled with problems for the Heat, this is at least a nice problem to have. Dragic's stock may be rising on that trade market, in concert with him getting more and more comfortable being a leader in Miami. He had 32 points Thursday in Miami's 99-95 win over Dallas, shooting 11 for 15 and knocking down all four of his 3-point tries.

"He's improved and I don't know if anybody's noticed," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's worked so much on his game first, which is most important for us, defensively. He's really taking pride in defending pick and rolls, challenging shots, rebounding the ball better.

"Guys want him to step up and lead. The last couple of years, it's been a little uncomfortable for him. Now he's stepping up and saying a whole lot more."

Sometimes, he even has too much to say for Spoelstra's liking.

Dragic had 22 of his 32 in the second half on Thursday, one of the reasons why Miami rallied from a half-time deficit for only the third time all season.

Meanwhile, Karl-Anthony Towns led Timberwolves past injury-depleted Clippers.

Towns knows he needs to have more nights like this one if he's going to reach his goal of greatness.

Towns scored 37 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 45 seconds left, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the injury-depleted Clippers 104-101 on Thursday night to stop Los Angeles' seven-game winning streak.

"I just took what the defence gave me," Towns said. "I just tried to make shots, even if they were hard. I put all my will, my passion, my determination at the end of the game and put it on the line. If you want to be great in this game you've got to be willing to take those kinds of shots."

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