Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses Scottie Barnes' exceptional fourth-quarter play, initial thoughts on Will Barton, why he closed with Gary Trent Jr. instead of Jakob Poeltl and more.
- Do you think that the way they grinded out an update--
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I think that, again, defensively, we did a lot of good things. Just a few moments, again, where we got a little-- and it seems to be the same things, a few transition 3's and a few transition buckets. And bar about 8 to 10 offensive possessions, I liked how we were playing offense.
I still think there's some rhythm issues and scoring issues. I thought we moved the ball pretty good. I don't know how many assists we had, but we passed it good.
I can't even see that. Does that say 26? It's pretty good for 38 or 39 field goals. Don't know why I can't see that over here tonight, but--
So I thought we were making the right plays on offense. It wasn't going in as much as I liked it to. But I thought the plays were pretty much right. Again, it was six, eight possessions that I would like to have over that we probably didn't execute, or shot too quick, or something like that without exploring a little bit more. But I thought the ball moved pretty good.
So defense, solid. Offensive execution, solid. The offensive scoring wasn't-- I think there's some room for growth there.
- You know, a guy like Thad who you don't use an awful lot of, and tonight, I thought he gave you--
NICK NURSE: He was great.
- --very, very good minutes.
NICK NURSE: He was great.
- What's the luxury of having a guy like that back and deep in the rotation?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, it's good. And I probably-- like, that's a good role for him to-- we kind of let Chris and Precious see what's going on. And the one thing I will say is, those two guys, like Chris, Chris had a tough time in the first half, bounced back great in the second half. They're doing that a little bit. Like, even if they don't play that good in the first half, they'll bounce back with some hard play in the second.
But Thad was able to kind of plug in there. And he was really, I thought, just strong, and assertive, and very good at both ends.
- Why did you start who you started, and why did you--
--why'd you finish with who you finished with?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, well, I think that that felt like the right way to go. Starting, I think that we needed OG in there for defense. We pretty much matched him with DeMar all night long. And I just felt like we needed Gary's scoring in the game because the scoring wasn't coming that easy.
And then defensively, we got to a pretty good scheme there, like, the last half of the fourth, where we're putting Scottie on Vucevic, and being able to switch the ball screens. And OG would then go on Vucevic.
So we went back to our-- whatever, doesn't matter what we call it-- that defensive scheme. And that seemed to be good. And it just seemed like the way to stay, right? I think the combination of it working out defensively with that scheme, and Gary's offensive production was the way to go.
- So you talked about OG working his way back before the game. This looked more like OG, especially on the defensive end?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, it was good. We got him started right away. He got a nice little back cut basket to start the game. That's always, like, a jolt, I think, to somebody. So that was good.
And then we had a little bit of a size matchup at times. And we threw the ball in the post to him a couple of times. And they were actually-- their scheme is to double.
And we thought we would live with that. We would throw it in there, let them double, run the cutters. And we'd either get a good cutting basket or probably a wide open 3. And we ran a couple of those in a row, I think, that got us that.
And then he obviously took one too, right to the rim, and scored too, when they got out of the double. So it was a good place to go, which was nice because we haven't gone that way for quite some time, probably.
- I'm thinking if you take the blocks out, that was one of Scottie's best defensive games. When you add the blocks in, that was just spectacular. What type of a defender does he give you that might be unique? And how is he rounding into that ability on that end of the floor as a player?
NICK NURSE: Well, the best thing about it all was he was really competing, right? He was really digging in to try to get stops and compete, right? And you could just see that. And you could see that picking up as the game went on, especially in the fourth. He was really, I thought, inspirational to the other guys, right?
And then again, we got into putting him on Vucevic. And that allowed us to just make the switch. So he's big enough and strong enough to hold off Vucevic. And he's laterally good enough to stay with their perimeter guys. So that's good versatility.
- Jakob was working really hard to keep Vooch off the glass. How big was it to get, like, that team rebounding effort from everyone else?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, it was pretty good. I think that they are interesting now because they do have those two bigs that rebound, Drummond especially. But they're really sending a lot of their other guys to the-- they're pretty crafty at sending Beverley, and Caruso, and Williams. And all those guys are going.
Usually, you can use one of those guys on the bigs. We kind of put two guys to block out the bigs, normally. And it was getting a little difficult because they were slashing in from the perimeter so much to rebound.
But I mean, it was a pretty physical game. It was good. I thought we played with good physicality. And the rebounding was part of it.
- Nick, and Scottie's numbers have been much better in the fourth quarter.
NICK NURSE: Yep.
- Why do you think that is?
NICK NURSE: I don't know. We've talked about it before, just the competitive side of him really starts emerging in the fourth. And he just starts playing really physical and really tough.
- Nick, did Thad, too, emerge earlier in the game? And how do you get that to happen?
NICK NURSE: Well, I don't know. I think that, again, I'm going to say the same things I always say-- I want him to be more aggressive. I want him to beat people up going to the basket and finish a little bit more.
I thought he got there a bunch. He had about how many roll off? He had at least three. There might have been more.
But he was trying to get there. He got there. And he was just a little bit unlucky on those. Might have to switch those to the left hand once in a while, I don't know. We'll take a look at that.
But that's all right. Playing super hard. I thought we had a really good defensive effort in the fourth when we needed it. And lots of guys chipped in on that.
- Nick, earlier in the season, you know, yourself and the front office seemed to always be kind of optimistic there would be some sort of turnaround with this team, especially when the team was not looking at their best stretches. How satisfying has it been to be able to see the month of February go by and have probably your best stretch of basketball?
NICK NURSE: Well, it's good. I mean, I don't know what that is, I don't know, 7, 8 out of 10 or something like that? That's not bad. I mean, we probably let one of those get away from us, and had one stinker in there too, right?
But I think that over the month, and even maybe creeping back a couple of weeks into January, I've been much more satisfied with the defensive effort. And again, I think that's what we knew we were going to be built on all season. And we're getting there. And that's going to give us a chance every night.
I mean, what did we shoot, 40% tonight and still win? That's not great shooting percentage. I think the offense will come here shortly.
I mean, we know we're running out of time. But I think the motions, and the moves, and the things we're doing, and the spacing, and the relocating, all that stuff is at a pretty high level. The cutting's getting better. Passing's getting better. And now, we just got to do the most important part-- put it in the hole.
- We'll wrap up with Lindsey.
- Can you kind of go through the reasoning to give Will some minutes tonight, given kind of the turnaround?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, that was a little bit of a roll of the dice, but was just a moment where we needed another ball handler. They were pretty small. And Scottie had already kind of played a lot of minutes. So we just decided to throw him out there.
I liked him, though. I thought he really moved the ball, and looked good out there in those few minutes. So I look forward to getting him a little longer look.
- Thanks, everybody.
NICK NURSE: All right, thanks a lot.
- Thanks, Nick.