Nick Nurse on 4th quarter defensive breakdowns vs. Pacers

Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses the good components from the loss to the Pacers and where the costly defensive lapses occurred.

Video Transcript

- --practices like this time of year? Do you get a lot of work done, or it a lot of film work, a little more team--

NICK NURSE: Well, yeah, I mean, we've-- there's not a lot of contact and stuff like that, obviously. And even less when you got a bunch of guys out. You know, we've got those guys out, and a couple of the G League guys are out, too, injury wise. So they can't fill in, numbers wise. Today was film work. We always got a couple of defensive things we're shoring up in drill work. Lots of execution stuff on offense and special teams. Lots of shooting, things like that, yeah.

- How challenging is it, when you do have a couple of guys out, to manage around your depth?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, listen, I think it is-- it's been tough, I think especially-- and even like last night, it's like you're trying a bunch of different guys and searching. And I think some of those guys came in tougher situations-- they haven't played that much for us in a while-- and did OK. I thought Jeff and Malachi both did decent in their stints. But yeah, I mean, it's a challenge for sure. But got to figure it out. Got to figure it out.

- A challenge to manufacture energy or strategy when you got newer guys in there?

NICK NURSE: Well, it's just a little bit-- you saw-- you see last night a little bit on things like, I don't know, just like sometimes getting the ball in bounds after a basket. Different guys are not used to being in certain places or whatever. Just a slight bit of that going on. Looking back at the tape last night, there was a lot of really good segments of things. It was-- there was tons of really good offense.

I mean, just can't really-- I mean, the only complaint I have offensively is the fast breaks. I thought we left a bunch on the table when we had advantage. Missed a bunch of stuff at the rim after great defense. The rest of it was executed super well. The shot spectrum was phenomenal. The shot challenges that we were facing were light or non-existent on a lot of them. We just got to-- it's one of those nights where you got to try to grind out and manufacture a win another way.

Probably the most disappointing thing for me was, in the midst of a lot of really good defense at times, I thought late in the fourth, we had a couple critical misreads on the schemes that got them free, right, and they knocked them down. I mean, they made four huge 3's in the fourth. Two of them were step-backs and one was a real bad breakdown by us. And another one wasn't-- it was just a tough, tough make. But we can't have those two schematic breakdowns in the fourth like that.

- It's probably fair to say last night was a ra-- at points a dull game. There wasn't a lot of energy. There wasn't a lot of juice in the building. How do you-- how do you think the team reacts to that kind of atmosphere?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I didn't think last night's was as bad as the night-- the game before. It was pretty quiet, that one, I thought, and for a long time. I thought last night's had some fairly good energy. I mean, I don't-- again, I just thought-- I thought the energy was pretty good. I thought guys were trying hard, et cetera. I just-- again, my only complaint was I thought we weren't quite physical enough around the rim at times, either in rebounding-- like it appeared to me a couple of times, we were going to get offensive rebounds, like we had them outnumbered, and it looked like it was somewhat 50/50, and we weren't pulling many away.

We tipped a lot out to them, right? And I thought, again, we didn't play through some contact at the rim. And there was a lot-- there was a lot-- I mean, they did call a lot of fouls, but there was a lot more. They should-- guys just-- but the guys need to try to figure out a better move, a stronger move, or to take the hit and somehow guide it in there anyway. That's-- there was a segment of that, I thought we weren't physical enough around the rim. Just pulling the ball down or putting it in the basket.

- In general, would you say that's an issue with this team, defensive--

NICK NURSE: Nope. Uh-uh. I mean, listen, I think I've talked about us playing through contact and finishing at the rim earlier in the year, and it does show up every now and again, right? But no, that's the first time-- I mean, we've been much better in transition scoring and break opportunities and all that stuff in the last month for sure. And last night was just kind of a dropoff in that area.

- How do you work on physicality in practice at this point in the season, when it's less contact?

NICK NURSE: No, you can't. You're not going to work on it too much, right? You're not going to throw bodies against bodies, trying to simulate that stuff. I mean, that stuff's all been done, right? And like I said, it's been at a pretty high level for a number of-- probably a few months now. We just got to-- it's just one of the things, you got to show them the clips and refocus.

And you know, like my thing is sometimes we try to make a finesse move or an early decision in transition where sometimes the best decision is to get all the way down there, get to two feet, get as big and wide as you can, and pump fake and take it through them and draw the contact and some of that stuff. So just making a little better decisions is how-- watching the film is how you work on it right now.

- Coach, how do you-- you mentioned the fourth quarter. What's the difference or the biggest factor in closing one out versus maybe struggling with the finish?

NICK NURSE: Well, last night, you could literally come down and say it was make or miss because we generated a ton of wide-open 3's and they made four, and we didn't make any. Right? But if you want to talk about how you're going to fix it, how you're going to take away the ones they made, we made a couple of critical defensive mistakes. Some of that was guys that probably wouldn't have been matched up where they were last night, but they are and they got to-- they can't make them. Right? And we just got to do a better job of executing the personnel game plan and things like that.