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

  • LeBron sends best wishes to top NBA prospect Zion Williamson after injury LeBron sends best wishes to top NBA prospect Zion Williamson after injury

    Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James held his breath for Zion Williamson after the top NBA prospect suffered a knee injury

    Duke star Williamson left Wednesday's matchup against North Carolina inside a minute and did not return midweek.

    The 18-year-old freshman suffered the injury while dribbling toward the basket about 40 seconds into the game when his Nike sneaker ripped.

    Williamson fell to the floor and grabbed his leg before heading to the Duke bench and then the locker room.

    NBA great James reacted on social media, writing via Twitter: "Hope young fella is ok! Literally blew thru his [shoe]."

    Williamson has been one of the best players in college basketball this season and he is expected to be selected with the number one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

  • Duke star Williamson suffers knee injury Duke star Williamson suffers knee injury

    Duke star Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury during his team's clash against North Carolina on Wednesday.

    The 18-year-old freshman was dribbling towards the basket about 40 seconds into the game when his sneaker ripped.

    Williamson fell to the floor and grabbed his leg before heading to the Duke bench. He then went to the locker room.

    Duke later announced Williamson would not return.

    He has been one of the best players in college basketball this season and is expected to be selected with the number one pick in the NBA Draft.

    He entered the matchup averaging 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds while shooting 68.3 per cent from the field.

  • 'Everybody wants to actually talk about bull****' – Irving angry over Durant video rumours 'Everybody wants to actually talk about bull****' – Irving angry over Durant video rumours

    Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving labelled free agency speculation generated from a video with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant as "bull****".

    Irving was seen talking to Durant in the tunnel at the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte last week, prompting rumours the pair could team up with the New York Knicks next season.

    Both Irving and Durant can become free agents at the end of the current campaign and the pair have been linked to the Knicks.

    Celtics star Irving was noticeably agitated when answering questions about his discussion with Durant.

    "It's my life, right?" Irving told reporters on Wednesday. "It's two people talking, having a conversation. If this was the real world, would it be anybody else's business? It's a video of somebody assuming what we're talking about. So why would I care about it? Why are you asking me those type of questions?"

    "C'mon man, you do it for the likes and clicks, everybody does," Irving added. "Everybody wants to hear me talk like this. Everybody wants to actually talk about bull****. video though? To pour water on [speculation]? Makes no sense. It's not real life. Not real."

    "That's where we started the conversation, what I do in my life is my business," he continued. "So it's none of yours, none of anybody's business, right? So it's a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting?"

    The Celtics have had an up-and-down season and entered the All-Star break fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 37-21 record. 

    Irving addressed the team's inconsistency, telling ESPN: "It's been a trying year for us. We basically have a bunch of young men in our locker room who feel like they're capable of doing a lot more than they're doing. And that's OK, but there's a maturing that you have to have. There's a professionalism that you have to showcase every single day, and that's what the great ones do.

    "I initially didn't play the minutes I wanted to play. I'm 26 years old, heading into my prime, like, why do I have to wait for anybody? [Terry Rozier] played in the playoffs. He did extremely well. Coming back, that's a natural competition that me and him have.

    "It is what it is. No one wants to say it, but I will. You know, [Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum], all these guys, it's part of their growth. When you have winning in mind, you've gotta understand that. You gotta do what it takes, but you gotta understand your team-mates."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.