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Nick Nurse gives thoughts on Raptors after a quarter of the season

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  • Toronto Raptors
    Toronto Raptors
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Nick Nurse
    Nick Nurse
    American basketball coach

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse spoke with the media following his team’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. He shared what he’s learned about the Raptors a quarter of the way through the season, how tough it is to play without numerous key rotation pieces, and what lessons the club can take home after a tough road trip.

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Video Transcript

- First, actually just [INAUDIBLE].

NICK NURSE: Yeah, he left the game, as you saw there, late. He's got left calf tightness. Being evaluated right now, but yeah, left calf.

- Those 16 points in the fourth quarter was tough, right? So what happened there?

NICK NURSE: Well, we didn't have a great night, but we needed a little something special from a couple of guys. We didn't get them much from a few guys out there. I'm not-- offensively, yeah, the fourth quarter obviously doesn't look very good there. But I thought the shots were pretty decent.

I thought we did a decent job of getting stuff. It was more at the other end, where they were just out-working us. We gave up 17 offensive rebounds. That's a problem, right? Just thought, again, we were, especially in the first half, we were just a half step slower. We were maybe missing the help or over helping and not being able to get back by a half step. We had some close outs to players we probably could have made a little more under control. And we kind of-- they went right back by us and back into the paint.

And when we did get them to miss, they got a lot of offensive rebounds and kept the ball alive a lot. And a couple of them at key times. I think they might have got a couple when we had it back at six there. And they get two possessions in a row with offensive rebounds, so just not quite in sync out there with stuff tonight. It's just a little bit of a step slow, half step slow tonight.

- Scottie had seven [INAUDIBLE] times.

NICK NURSE: Yeah.

- Do you think he was a little extra aggressive or he just got the whistle or a good match up or what?

NICK NURSE: No, he was aggressive. He came over to me and said, coach, I think I can-- you know, I think I can get into the front of the rim. And I was like, go, keep going and keep getting big and try to finish them. And he did a good job. He got angles on them. He made some shots, obviously, because you had mentioned he got the free throw lines down, so. Got an and one one time, so. Pretty good night for him, I thought, offensively.

- Last thing I'll ask, just [INAUDIBLE] massive road trips done now. Obviously, the records not what you probably wanted. At the same time, you have to believe you got better. That could be [INAUDIBLE].

- Yeah, I mean, I think-- listen, it's some guys that got a lot of minutes and some interesting minutes against some good teams on the road. I think that we'll cross our fingers on Gary, but we've got to get some of these guys back. It's just a little thin up front when we're missing 6'8", 6'10", 6'10", three rotational guys. I know it's part of it, but we got to get a little healthier and be able to maintain our advantage rebounding that we've carved out when we were a little healthier. Rim protection a little bit. Just, I think, energy. I think those guys that were logging some long-- some long slates and their long rotations and just a little bit but those guys can help out with that too.

- Thanks. Justine, we'll go over to you now, please.

JUSTINE: Sounds good. Thanks, JQ. We'll go to Doug Smith first here.

DOUG SMITH: Hey, Nick. How are you, sir?

NICK NURSE: Good, Doug. I'm OK.

DOUG SMITH: Good. This is probably an impossible question to answer, but you're a quarter of the way through your season, what do you know about your team?

NICK NURSE: Well, I think, Doug, that we've played a little up and down like a young team might. I think if you probably would have-- at the start of the year, you probably would have thought there was some up and down moments. I think there's been some tremendous basketball at times. I think, again, we've had a lot of bodies in and out, which we got to try to solve that. I mean, I don't know how we solve it, but hopefully just-- I would say, hopefully the ball bounces a little better our way on that front.

And because, again, I think if we get in a situation where we're looking people eye to eye, our defense is much better. So we've shown we can play some really good defense, and we've shown if we're not engaged fully, that we can not be so good defensively, as well.

DOUG SMITH: Do you think--

NICK NURSE: I think we're-- go ahead.

DOUG SMITH: And is getting that full engagement for longer stretches just a matter of experience and doing it more often, these younger players?

NICK NURSE: Well, yeah, that's part of it, Doug, for sure. I think for sure. I'd almost always say that it takes a good season for a guy to learn just the movements of NBA defense. So you know me, I'm always talking about connectivity and that defense has to be connected. And I think we lose a little bit of that. And some of that's just-- I don't want to say chemistry, but it's different people in and out in different positions and different stuff happening kind of continually, it makes it hard to get that chemistry and connectivity.

So we got to-- well, we've got to stay with it and we got to-- we've been really working hard and just drilling our fundamentals and every day going over all those things defensively just to get some more repetitions in. So we'll stick with it.

DOUG SMITH: Great. Thanks so much. Safe trip back.

NICK NURSE: Thanks Doug. Yeah, thank you.

JUSTINE: And we'll go to Steven from Sportsnet now.

- Chris.

STEVEN: Hey, Nick.

NICK NURSE: Hey, Steven.

STEVEN: Obviously, the trip is done. I mean, like you guys just have just played a ton of games on the road. But you're about to enter a stretch now where it's the exact opposite, where I think you're playing seven straight at home, just a ton in the next month at home. So what can that, I guess, consistency of just staying home do to help a young team like your one?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think, again, all the games are valuable for us, home or away. I think this was a valuable, again, learning experience on the road. I think each night out we know for us to get a win, we've got to play at a pretty high level and with some consistency. We've got to make sure that we treat this very businesslike and very professional at home. We've got to get a little tougher, maybe a little more-- yeah, just tougher, I think, and defend our home court. And as we've got-- certainly, we've got the opportunity now to do that. So we'll look forward to playing at home.

STEVEN: And you obviously mentioned you guys have had of guys in and out of the lineup a bunch. I guess, how does that impact the bench, specifically? And then how you want to set your rotations coming off the bench.

NICK NURSE: Well, I would say this. I think that for tonight, it got hard. As soon as Precious needs to come out of the game, we've got two big strong bigs. Well, so one of them is going to be out there the whole time. There's just not a lot of size to sub in tonight, again, with three guys with considerable size out of the game. So that was hard tonight, I think. That still is the first thing I felt kind of.

STEVEN: Great. Thanks a lot, Nick.

NICK NURSE: Thanks, Steven.

JUSTINE: And last question for you here, coach, is Aaron Rose from SI.com.

AARON ROSE: Hey, Nick. Rick Carlisle spoke before the game about Fred and said that he has a knack for making important shots, even not necessarily clutch at-the-end-of-the-game shots but to stop a run or whatever. He did that a couple of times tonight until he couldn't, I guess. How important is that for a point guard, someone in his role, to be able to stop the bleeding when stuff gets bad?

NICK NURSE: Well, it's important. In general, I think offense sometimes loses rhythm and momentum and a game gets going a certain way. And he's going to have the ball in his hands. And to be able to come down and pick out some of those moments and, like you said, stop the bleeding or end a run or just give us a boost, it's really important. And that's one of the first notable traits, I think, going back all the way to when he was a rookie, that he was always, when the offense was in trouble and the shot clock was late, he was always making shots to keep the offense taking over or almost bailing out the offense late in the shot clock. And that's just, again, that just shows his championship pedigree, his winning pedigree.

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