NBA

Leonard plays harder in big games, says Raptors coach Nurse

By Sports Desk December 06, 2018

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse praised star man Kawhi Leonard for lifting his game in another big clash against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

Leonard scored 36 points in a 113-102 Raptors home win and he has now had 30-point games against both the Sixers and the Boston Celtics twice, as well as the Golden State Warriors once.

Mention of that impressive record saw Nurse acknowledge that the forward appears to move to another level against other contenders as Toronto improved to 21-5 at the top of the Eastern Conference.

"For him, I think it's interest level. Like all of us, there's bigger games than others," Nurse told a news conference of Leonard. "He's an immense talent. He really is.

"When the stakes go up a little bit, he's going to play his hand a little harder. I think the juice gets flowing and gets him a little bouncier with the three-ball and a little quicker with the ball in transition."

However, Leonard insists he approaches every game the same.

"I don't look at it that way. I try to perform every night," he said. "If you try to turn it on versus the good teams, it's very hard to do that.

"You've got to do it on a nightly basis, whoever you're guarding, whoever you're playing. This [the Sixers] could be a playoff team that we're going to be playing in the future, but I don't really see it that way. I just try to go out and play.

"I pride myself on going out there, trying to win games and playing hard every night. That's what I try to be consistent at. I try to be a leader for my team-mates and set an example."

Related items

  • Riley on LeBron leaving Heat: I saw a dynasty fly out the window Riley on LeBron leaving Heat: I saw a dynasty fly out the window

    Pat Riley thinks the Miami Heat had a good chance to win more championships if LeBron James remained with the team.

    James left the Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami in July 2010. The trio made four NBA Finals appearances and won two titles together before James returned to Cleveland prior to the 2014-15 season.

    Riley, the long-time Heat president, reflected on James leaving the team during a recent interview with ESPN.

    "When LeBron made that call, I saw a dynasty fly out the window," Riley said. "I didn't blame him, but I knew that was a 10-year team. It was just a sad day for me and our franchise because I wanted that dynasty.

    "I wanted this city and this team to go 10 years and maybe be in the Finals eight times. I don't know how many championships we would have won. But, I don't have any rancor towards him, at all."

    James, a 15-time All-Star and four-time MVP, went on to make four more trips to the Finals and won another championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. He became a free agent this offseason and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The Heat have made two playoff appearances in the four seasons since James departed. They are in a virtual tie with the Detroit Pistons for eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

  • Beal tried recruiting players to Wizards during All-Star break Beal tried recruiting players to Wizards during All-Star break

    Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal acted as a recruiter during the NBA All-Star weekend.

    The Wizards – who entered the break with a 24-34 record – traded Otto Porter Jr and Markieff Morris before the trade deadline.

    Washington trail the Detroit Pistons by three-and-a-half games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    Beal, who tallied 11 points on four-of-11 shooting in Team LeBron's 178-164 win over Team Giannis on Sunday, used the All-Star weekend in Charlotte to try and recruit new team-mates.

    "The recruiting process is really going alright. It's going alright. I'm trying," Beal said. "This is new for me. I'm definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for."

    Beal did not specify which players he spoke with but said he was asked multiple times "How is D.C.?"

    "I'm going to keep it in my piggy bank, in my back pocket," Beal said when asked which All-Stars he tried to recruit. "Hopefully we can do something."

    The two-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 25.1 points and 5.4 assists in 37.2 minutes per game this season. He is shooting 47.2 per cent from the field and 34.9 per cent from three-point range.

  • George Davis breaks down NBA All-Star game George Davis breaks down NBA All-Star game

    LeBron James was trading lob passes with Dwyane Wade again, one last time. Lobs from Kyrie Irving once again, too. And after making a stepback 3-pointer late, he stared down Joel Embiid to send a message without saying a word. 

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.