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."

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