Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses the team's defence vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Toronto's inability to hit shots and more.
- Nick, where would that rank in all the kind of crazy games you would have seen over your time, just given the start and finish?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I don't think I've seen one that weird. Really haven't. So right up there. Right up there. Right up there with the weirdness of the whole game. I don't really know what to say as far as the offense goes and not being able to put the ball in and not look close a lot doing it on some shots. But I do know what to say about the defense.
The defense kept on plugging and plugging and plugging all the way like-- you guys probably thinking the same thing that how were we anywhere within shouting distance for the first three quarters of that game with the shooting percentages? So they really did a good job fighting on defense.
- What does it say about them? They can have that effort defensively in light of had to be [INAUDIBLE]--
NICK NURSE: Well, it says like-- I think everybody's well aware. We're going through a really difficult patch, maybe the most difficult patch we've been through. And you know, like I say to you guys, they're fighting and trying. And they're trying to execute the game plan. And they're and they're hanging in there, right?
I think that the offensive woes probably would have caught up with us maybe a few weeks ago or a month ago and got to our defense. But it didn't seem to tonight. So [INAUDIBLE]--
NICK NURSE: Go ahead.
- You mentioned how some of the shots weren't very close even though they were fairly decent shots Is that a team that when the shots start to pile up-- when the shots start to--
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean--
- --pile up, are you starting to think about the--
NICK NURSE: I mean, I think so. I think that it's a lot like a lot of things. I think it gets a little contagious, right? Like, we had some, again-- and injuries just kind of started spreading. And we're trying-- try to sneak a few other guys in there and maybe see if they'd relax and vault up and knock one down. And that didn't seem to help much either. So just one of those things that spread.
And just like the start of the overtime was a great synopsis of the game. We get three stops and two wide open 3's and one wide open, you know, like eight 12 footer. And we got nothing to show for it, you know? And we're-- and we're down-- and we fall down 2 after about three minutes of play, right? So that was really a synopsis of the game. And I kind of thought we maybe kind of broke the damn open there.
Certainly had with just kind of pace and kick and taking shots and having some-- having some success with some things.
- What do you make of the Scottie sort of quiet until he comes on late [INAUDIBLE]?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, you know, yeah, it was, That was-- well, we need him-- we need him to be, again, more aggressive from start to finish.
- I mean, how much does playing a guy like Lopez where you really have to consider the push and pull of when do I force a shot? When do I not play into his role in particular tonight?
NICK NURSE: Well, I think that the thing about it is he ended up having some success right on him at the front of the rim, right? And I think I would probably-- but probably, looking back on it now, we'd explore that early to just say, OK, let's go-- let's go try to get into him and challenge him or probably take a few more of the wide, wide open 3's that he was given. Like, we're not telling him not to shoot those for sure, right?
I mean, we don't want 20 of them. But we got to try to keep them a little bit on us so we can just not let them do exactly what he wants to do out there.
- The second game in a row where you get 7 from the bench, as long as the best five scorers are starting, you're probably not going to get big scoring totals from some of those guys off the bench. But what do you need from them to be able to impact the game more?
NICK NURSE: Well, I think that-- I mentioned it the other day. They got to be a lot more solid defensively, first of all, right, to not just-- if they're not going to score in stretches, they've got to make sure they're not just giving it away quickly like a little bit happened in Indiana the other night, right? But you know, like-- you know, Malachi has had some good games where he's made some open shots.
Chris has. He'd need to make a few more. Precious gets back in the swing and things. I thought he had a couple decent looks and drives and stuff that needs to finish. He had a couple-- at least one nice roll and lob. And just they got to-- they got to make some of those, Josh. That's it.
- Chris got drilled by a screen second half.
NICK NURSE: Yes, he did.
- It looked like it wasn't called out by his teammates. Is that true? Is that something you guys discussed?
NICK NURSE: Well, it was a little bit of a weird play. I think Chris ended up crashing the glass and decided to stay up on Giannis, right? And I think that that kind of threw off the matchups a little bit and back. I'm not sure anybody was guarding that screener yet or way up at that point, right, to communicate it, yeah.
- So no one to call it?
NICK NURSE: I don't know. I got to look at it. Yeah, he got to get hit hard though from kind of blindsided, right?
- But you had an early challenge in the first quarter? Did you do that intentionally in terms of like wanting to set the tone for the rest of the game or Russ taking a closer look--
NICK NURSE: Well, I mean, I think you're always going to get Giannis with his share of collisions down there. And you're never quite sure what your guys are doing wrong other than taking a punishment, right? And that one, I didn't get a great look at it on the original one.
But Pascal was obviously saying it was all ball. And I got a quick look on it on the screen and thought I had about a 70% chance of getting it right right just from the call basis and also setting a little bit of an early tone that we actually can stop him possibly, right? We actually could strip it clean tonight.
- What did you think of your defense against him? A lot of points but 12 turnovers is a career high for him.
NICK NURSE: It was outstanding. It was outstanding, yeah.
- You mentioned Malachi earlier. I mean, he's had some good moments over the last few weeks but probably not so many of them here over the last couple of games. How tough is it with young players like that to kind of live through the ups and the downs.
NICK NURSE: Well, I think that what you said is exactly right, Josh. He had a nice stretch there, really impacted games. I think that it is still probably a pretty small sample size, but that's kind of-- he's kind of nights when he's hot and when he's not, right? And he's certainly going to impact games and nights. He is. And he's not going to impact them very much when he's not. And that's the simple data that I can go from right now.
- With 16 wins, 38 games, it's the fewest since the 2012-13 season. What have you seen from the past couple of games that gives you hope that you and your team can turn it around for the remainder of the season?
NICK NURSE: Well I still say that we've got to continue to play to our identity, which is playing pretty good solid defense and given ourselves a chance. And I think-- I mean, I haven't watched the tape yet-- but I think there's a lot of makeable shots out there. We just got to get some over this hump of guys that. career wise, have shot the ball a lot better, right?
And I think those shots are there. I think we're creating them. There's not some like major thing. I think the major thing is we've got to get some confidence back at that end. Then I think that feeds that way. Again, I have to look at it a little bit more closely, which I will. But simple as that, man, we've got to put the ball in the bucket a little bit more, yeah.
- Did you ever get that close to pulling the starters and saying this one's over?
NICK NURSE: Ah, no. Not yet. It was still-- it was still too early for me for that.