Nick Nurse credits players for scheme execution after win vs. Pelicans

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses the difference in the team's defence recently, where they can improve in the margins and offensive execution.

Video Transcript

- That the kind of defense you want to see for 48 minutes. [? Your team, ?] they were very effective, I thought, most of the night.

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I agree with you. I think it was tough. It was really good rim challenges. The only, probably, issue was I thought we gave up a few too many 3's in transition. Seems to be, again, something we've had to deal with a little bit.

It's something we're working on. It's-- needs to get a little better. But I was pretty happy with the ball pressure. Just again, I thought we were big at the rim. You know, we made them take tough shots and we protected the rim on a number of occasions when it looked like the play was in trouble, right?

And we saved them and we were able to get out the other way. But I thought the concentration, the effort, and the execution of what we were trying to do was good, was solid. Yes.

- There was some concerns with Jakob's free throw shooting, but-- and his ability to play down the stretch in close games. But he got the offensive rebound and made a free throw, another offensive rebound. The more he does that the more you can trust him in those situations to play games?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think it's all fair comments. But I think he was humongous at getting us extra possessions. He was protecting the rim down there. He won a jump ball for us, which we struggled on those this year too.

So he did so many good things, I didn't even look at his numbers. I know he had a ton of rebounds at one point. But yeah, 18, that's a good number. Yeah.

- Those two offensive boards in the fourth quarter in last--


- --3 minutes, like--

NICK NURSE: Yeah, and that was, like, in counter, they brought Nance in because they wanted to blitz Pascal with the speed and athleticism. And Jak made them pay for that, right? Which that's what you need to do when they're making a countermove. Your countermove is you stay big and you've got to make them pay down there. And he did.

- What were you hoping to see from Jeff tonight in that sort of guard off the bench role?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, listen, I just think that he's really solid. And he's been really solid for us all year. Really competes defensively, got a little bit of burst to the rim and the pick and roll, and I thought he was excellent tonight. And in fact, his first stretch, it was extra long because he was playing so well, right?

I mean, I think it pushed up close to 12 minutes, maybe? Yeah, 11, 12 minutes. So that's pretty good for a guy who hasn't played all that much for us. So he's solid. He gives us another ball handler, another organizer.

And I just I think where he really helps us, though, is on the defensive end. He makes plays down there.

- Nick, you've talked for the past maybe a month or so about upping the workman-like attitude, more practices, attention to detail, professionalism. What do you make of the trajectory of the team in that regard? Are you seeing benefits from that?

NICK NURSE: A little bit like I said to you guys yesterday and maybe before the game today is adding another player and getting a couple of guys back from injury should enable us to play this much more intensity throughout the course of the game. And I think that was the case tonight. There was a lot of subbing, moving around in the first half. Much, much lower minutes for the guys. I mean, I know it's only three or four here or there, but that makes a big difference to play 16 or 15 instead of 19 or 20 in the first half.

It enables us to, again, go out and increase our work rate at the defensive end. And that's what we want to do. We want to make things difficult. We want to disrupt rhythm. And you need energy to do that.

So that's what I make of it.

- With regards to, like, the attention to detail and kind of like blocking out the noise maybe, do you think those increased practices and just, again, that attention to more work has kind of helped in that regard as well?

NICK NURSE: Well, I think that, listen, when there was-- when there's issues, you've got to try to plug the hole, right? If it's transition, if it's defensive rebounding, if it's guarding the ball, if it's rim protection. I mean, like, there's been some issues. And there's going to be-- I just mentioned one, like, tomorrow, we're going to be working on some sort of defensive drill where we're matching up in transition, you know? That we got to communicate a little bit better.

And it seems-- and you know, again, we've done a lot of studying on some of this stuff too. And we got to get-- there's certain guys that are getting-- that need to be more verbal and need to sprint harder or whatever it is to get better at that. So we'll continue to do that because I think if you looked at the half court defensive sets there, most were pretty good. We made a few mistakes. But nothing like we were making three months ago.

Like, you know, like, there's a few mistakes in coverages and schemes, but nothing like-- nothing-- I mean, really solid as far as executing the schemes tonight.

- Chris had that sequence at the end of the third, the big dunk and the blocks of--

NICK NURSE: That was pretty cool.

- --3.


- What is a sequence like that or a stretch like that do for you?

NICK NURSE: I mean, that's Chris, right? I mean, he's just-- he's going to make some spectacular plays. He's going to do them at both ends. He makes-- he makes something happen, right? Isn't always good, but tonight, there was a sequence there where they were great, right?

So he makes things happen and plays with tremendous energy. And that is what we need for him, off the bench.

- Were you worried he'd taken off from a step too far?

NICK NURSE: Nope, he always dunks those. I've seen that. I've seen that many times in practice.

- You talked about filling big holes, I mean, you had some pretty big shoes to fill tonight without Fred.


- How much time did you have to prepare for that? Like, how quickly?

NICK NURSE: I mean, I had a pretty good idea that he wasn't going to be here maybe around four or five o'clock. And I just, again, like, we went through the pregame walk through without him, obviously. And if he'd have showed up for whatever reason, we would have plugged him right in there.

But I mean, it gets a little tricky. I mean, you know, Scottie moves to the one and you're trying to figure out who the ball handlers are and bring Jeff in who hasn't played much for us. You know, so but those were all things we thought about, going into it, in case we didn't have him.

- Nick, you said the defensive execution is a lot better than it was three months ago. And I think it was very apparent tonight. But what do you think-- why do you think that is, specifically?

NICK NURSE: Well, I think, Savannah, it's just been getting a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better, right? I just think it's been making progress to getting there. The question is, why weren't we playing better three months ago, probably, right? But again, lots of pieces moving, lots of things going on, just whatever. And probably put some of that stuff behind us.

We've put the trade deadline behind us. We've put All-Star behind us. We've done a heck of a lot of work. And we've added a good rim protector too. So there's a lot of little things there.

And I think I've said this probably four times, at least, since I've been back, is we got to get this team to play this kind of defense, right? This is who we are and who we can be. And if we do that, then we're going to-- again, I think the offense had some moments, early and late, where we didn't make the right plays. But there was about 40 minutes in between there where we did, right?

Any time Pascal got doubled, he got right off it and we found the open man and the offense was going pretty good. And I don't think we're in great rhythm, right? Again, we got a couple of guys that are sitting out there that can shoot that have some rust or injury things are still coming back from that that'll even improve. But I think we are making the right plays on offense.


- That last play with the Trent 3--


- --seemed like it was just in [? Fred's ?] spot. And that [INAUDIBLE]

NICK NURSE: Yep, same play.

- Is it nice to know you guys can run it with, you know--


- even with different guys?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, sure is.