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Nick Nurse thought Scottie Barnes played one of his best games vs. Wizards

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Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse addressed the media after his team’s tight victory over the Washington Wizards. He discussed how impressed he was by the Raptors’ defence, Scottie Barnes managing the ups and downs of his rookie season, and the chemistry between Barnes and Fred VanVleet.

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Video Transcript

- Hi, Rocky.

- Hey, Nick. Congratulations on the win. You've talked often about wanting Scottie to be more aggressive. He seemed to be punishing guys in the paint tonight. Is that the kind of thing you're looking for him to do?

NICK NURSE: Yep. I think when he stretches out, Doug, he's big out there. Right? And I think he can use that length advantage to his advantage. And tonight he got it in places or took it to places where he could do that and he just stayed with it. It was a really aggressive good ballgame for him.

- You're half court offense seems predicated on post play, which is kind of odd since you don't have what you think is a post player. Why is it so effective in the half-court to run stuff by dumping the ball inside when you don't have side guys? You know what I mean?

NICK NURSE: Yeah. I mean, it's again probably-- We just don't have a post player, but have big wings and big guards right now a lot of times. Right? So there is some advantages to getting the position down there. Again, pretty happy with how we've punched it in there. I think we've made some good plays out of it when they've sent help as well. It's not perfect by any means, but there's a lot of good stuff happening when it goes down there. So that's probably the reason that you've seen a lot more of that lately.

- I think you turned them over 18 times or something like that. You're sort of ball [? hacking ?] defense was back to what it's at. And it's best, right?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, it was. We didn't guard very well. I know I talked before the game about the first 10 minutes. We didn't guard very well the first maybe 14 minutes, but I thought we picked it up. We went to a zone for a couple of possessions that was OK. But it seemed when we went back to man, it sparked a man-to-man. And you're right. We really started deflecting the ball, crowding the ball, swarming it when it got deep, things like that. And we were able to turn them over.

- All right, thanks so much as always. Safe trip back.

NICK NURSE: Thanks, Doug.

- Thank you, Doug. Go ahead, Mike Kantor.

MIKE KANTOR: Hey, Nick. Congrats on the win. You've taken-- Scottie's been your first guy off the floor a few times this year. And it seems-- Pretty much it seems like he's responded every time. Can you think of a time when he hasn't responded to [? something ?] like that?

NICK NURSE: Well, no, I can't right now. But you're right. Just again, it's great to see him like kind of bounce right back from that. Mike, you know? And we'll always give him that chance to do so. Right? And it's good to see him do it and it really got him going.

MIKE KANTOR: For sure. And it must have been nice to get Gary back just to sort of spread things around a little bit more tonight.

NICK NURSE: Yeah. I mean, obviously he hit a, you know, three 3s and a big and one, I think, play there in the stress of things. But yeah, you're right. It's just another option to provide spacing, even real or apparent. Right? And it's also-- There's a guy that can make a bucket on his own once in a while.

MIKE KANTOR: All right, thanks Nick.

NICK NURSE: Thanks, Mike.

- Thanks, Nick. Thanks, Mike. I do just want to warn everybody that it sounds like we're moving pretty quickly. Fred is close to being ready. So we'll try to get to as many of you as possible, but just bear with us on that. So go ahead, Josh Lindbergh.

JOSH LINDBERGH: Hey, Nick. As good as Scottie was at finding and attacking mismatches, it looked like Fred was really looking for him in those situations as well. Had a whole bunch of assists, I think five or six to him in the first half. How important was that, Fred, sort of setting the table with Scottie playing as he was there in that stretch?

NICK NURSE: Well I mean, Freddy's got the ball and Scottie's [? racing ?] into position against guys he's got a size advantage on. It's good that Freddie's got his head up and then he's able to find its way in there, you know? To set him up. So it's kind of both guys need to do their work. Scottie's got to run hard. He's got to [? seal. ?] But he's got to see it. He's got to get it over. Make sure it doesn't get deflected. But yeah, it's good. Good combo tonight between those two.

JOSH LINDBERGH: Thanks, Nick. See you back in [AUDIO OUT]

NICK NURSE: Thanks, Josh. Yeah.

- Thanks, Josh. Go ahead, Eric.

- Hey Nick. Thanks for taking the time. A few times last game and this game Scottie was used more as a screener. What do you like about that look? And should it open up his passing? I mean, obviously games like this will definitely open up his passing, but should him being in that position really open up his passing to come?

NICK NURSE: Yeah. Yeah, Eric. I mean, a lot of it depends on who they're guarding him with and what coverages they're in. They had their center, their five man guarding him a lot. And that means they were in some type of coverage. And they switched a little bit, but not that much with those guys. So yeah, I agree with you. There was even more, I thought, when he was rolling. There was opportunities to hit him on the role more.

And again, I think all those guys-- That's one of Pascal's bread and butter. When he sets and rolls Scottie can kind of pick up on that, too. You know, obviously our five men rolled a bit and been successful, too, but that's good. The main thing on that, Eric, is that you do go up there and screen because you got to free the ball handler for a little bit, right? And then make him cover with two or however they're going to cover that at screen and roll. And obviously the play of the game was a ball screen that was a heck of a screen. Got Freddy open.

- Appreciate it. Thank you.

NICK NURSE: Thanks, Eric.

- I do apologize. Fred is here. So Takeshi and Rafael, we'll do one quick question from you both. Go ahead, Takeshi.

- Oh. Congratulations on the great win. And you had a valuable five minutes for Utah to play tonight. And we were able to enjoy the Japanese duo tonight. So thank you so much for it. And my question is I think Utah's still has a long way to get back to where he was at the beginning of this season. So what did you see in his performance tonight? Did he show some--

NICK NURSE: I think, yeah, I think he took a step forward, Takeshi, tonight. You know, he ended up with a couple great defensive stops and rebounds. You know, he moved his feet, challenge shots, made them miss, collected the board. He didn't really get much of an opportunity on offense.

But I agree with you. I think, again there's just kind of a look in the way you move around out there that you know you're kind of in rhythm and ready to go. I still think he made a big step to getting back to that tonight. That'll build some confidence. And hopefully we'll just keep moving forward. And we'll get him back there. We'll get him back there. He's playing too well not to get back to that form.

- OK, thank you so much.

NICK NURSE: Thank you, Takeshi.

- Thanks, Takeshi. Last question. Go ahead, Rafael. We can do one from you. Thank you.

- Thank you. Nick, it was another high offensive night for Scottie tonight with 27 points. How would you describe his growth throughout the season?

NICK NURSE: Well you know, he's a rookie and a young guy. He has a lot of up and down performances, which a lot of rookies do. Tonight was one of his, you know, better-- obviously one of his best games, I think. He had a pretty high percentage, stayed with it, got the ball where he wanted to, was aggressive, so-- You know, he's got to try to build on it. But again, I think it's a process of learning the whole flow of the year. You know, rookies need to do that.

And in getting to the point where you can get more consistent each night. You know, it's 2 out of 4, 2 out of 5 games right now. We want to get that up to 2 out of 4 then 3 out of 4. And you know, where you're playing at a high level and don't expect it every night, but we want to make sure you're playing above average three out of four nights. And he's working towards that.

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