Nick Nurse praises Raptors' motor, physicality in close loss to Suns

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was anything but deflated after Toronto's 99-95 loss to Phoenix, praising his team's toughness and willingness to match the Suns' physicality from the opening tip. Follow our Raptors coverage all season long on Yahoo Sports Canada.

Video Transcript

NICK NURSE: You know, just out-physical us and, we hung in there really good. I thought we handled it well and actually played really physical ourselves. And, you know, it could have probably gone either way really.

I think the last shot that they made to kind of take the 3-point lead bounced around the rim a few times and went in. So they got a good bounce there on that, and we didn't. And we didn't probably shoot the ball well enough, you know, but we played.

You know, I think we played as hard as we could play, and we left a few points on the table at the free throw line. That's for sure. That would have probably helped. But really good effort by the guys.

- I know another seven assists for Pascal, who even minus two shooters in Scottie and Gary, sort of found the right guy at the right spot. Would that speak to his evolution in that position.

NICK NURSE: Yeah, it did. You know, me and Doug, I think I'm most happy with the two things of his passing and his defense, right? I think he's making plays at the other end as well. He's into the coverages. He's into the schemes.

I thought he really, really got a really tough break on his fifth foul, you know. I think we were up at 6 at that point, and he blocks that corner 3. And not only does it give them three free throws, it sends him to the bench when we were really rolling. So again, he made a great defensive play on that play right after jamming Chris Paul up at the wing and flew back to Shaman on the corner there.

So passing and defense, you know, he's scoring. He's rebounding. He's playing really well.

- You mentioned the other night that Terence probably could have had eight, nine extra rebounds just based on the ones he tipped today. It looked like he tipped them and got them.

NICK NURSE: Yep, he did. He got them today. He was really, again, a big factor in the game. Just relentless on the glass. And it's good to see. He's got some energy, and he's got some length. And he's got some springs, and he's using it. So that's good.

- It looked like you were searching a little bit at that position there with Yuta starting at speed as well in the first half. What did you like that you saw from Justin coming in?

NICK NURSE: Yeah. Well, I think, again, you're just trying to kind of buy some minutes here and there, Josh, and kind of knew it would be a really short start for Yuta. And gave Svi a crack at it again. It just was, again, just like many nights. We kind of keep trying to find that energy plug, and once again it was Justin, right? So we're just trying to buy minutes and keep trying guys and see if they can impact the game.

- Is it gonna be hard to keep Justin on the bench? Like the way he impacts the game?

NICK NURSE: Yeah.

- Early in the year you said you need to play Dalano because he affected the game. Is Justin the same way?

NICK NURSE: I think so. Yeah, I think he's knocking at the door for rotation, a small part of the rotation. I think he's always probably at the front of the line for a night you need an energy boost, or a wild card, or an X factor. And then on nights like tonight we probably should get him in the rotation.

- Does a game like that where you hang around with one of the best teams in the league that you take something away that you learned something about the team tonight?

NICK NURSE: Well, I think that I wouldn't say we played great the last couple of games, right? But we found a way to win, and that's just kind of the meandering through the league schedule. You're not always gonna play that great. And then tonight when you have to play really hard and tough against a really, really good team that you can do it.

And I think, you know, this last-- I don't know how many weeks you want to go back, but I would say six maybe. You want to go back six weeks or five weeks barring the COVID spell, we played pretty good basketball. Pretty organized, pretty hard, pretty solid, been in every game, won some good games-- all those kind of things.

So just continue to build. That's what I take from it. Just continue to build and should give us some confidence.

- Do those offensive rebounds like you do something different offensively knowing that at the time you're gonna grab the board if you miss?

NICK NURSE: Well, when you're playing against a team that's doing all switching, right-- they're just switching everything. There's not gonna be a lot of separation like you're used to getting on running a lot of actions, right? So they're trying to do is keep the ball in front, and you're gonna have to make plays in front of it.

I thought our guys made some of those. OG shaking down. Those guys shaking down the right match-ups, and driving into the paint, and either scoring, or dishing, or whatever. That's what ends up being there a lot, and then your next best chance is to go get another shot because you're not gonna make all those, right? In fact, you're gonna probably miss more than you make over the long haul. But if you can collect a few second chances back, that can keep your offense ticking over.

- What did you see they were focusing on with Fred? It wasn't like they locked him down by any stretch, but--

NICK NURSE: Well, yeah, they tried to keep their Bigs off our Bigs or off our screen setters. They were really doing a ton of switching, pre-switching, pre-match-up switching so they could switch and keep a four on him. It's not unlike what we do a lot, right?

You know, that was probably it. He just didn't quite have as much space to play in tonight. But he did a pretty good job anyway.

- Thanks very much.

NICK NURSE: OK.

- Thank you.

NICK NURSE: Yep.

- Last up is [INAUDIBLE].

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