Nick Nurse discusses the play calling on offence down the stretch, why he decided to have a film session before the Suns game, Christian Koloko getting lots of shooting reps with coaches during practice and more.
- Do you think that was certainly more to your defense [INAUDIBLE] turning them over and sort of scrambling on the ball pressure. What do you think about that part of your game?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I think we did a good job. I think we were a little bit all or nothing tonight. We created a lot of turnovers. And, certainly, it was a huge factor. I just-- we were aggressive, and we were active playing the passes. The guy guarding the ball was active with his hands. We tipped a lot, made some really good reads on some things, and just had them a little disrupted most of the night when we did.
It was really-- I thought we played hard. We were on the glass constantly. Only eight offensive rebounds, but all of them were-- we were challenging, and we were there making the defensive rebounds for them incredibly hard, I thought, which was just good, just in general doing what we want to do.
- Are you kind of willing to give up a high field goal percentage against if you can get 30 points on turnovers?
NICK NURSE: Well, I'd love to do both. I'd love to turn them over like crazy and make them shoot 33% if we could. And I think that it's just a little streaky. I think that there's a couple two or three-minute, four-minute gaps in the game where there are just too many easy buckets in succession. And then we'd stop them eight out of nine or something like that. And just little segments of the game we got to clean up a little bit
- When Scottie is doing a 3/4 court pick up or the more pressure defense in the backcourt, is that mostly just the flourish of his game, or do you guys say, this is what you're going to be doing from that?
NICK NURSE: Well, we get in-- there's a couple of teams that we end up playing like this, where we put Scottie on the main ball handler and OG on the center. And then it makes it an easy switch. It takes a lot of the lob threat and single side corner 3 threat out. And we're able to do that, and he just kind of-- he likes to do that.
But I thought his energy up the court defensively, and the way he pushed the ball offensively was huge. It just-- we had zero pace last night, either direction. And tonight we had great pace. And he was a big part of that.
- Is Christian the guy you want to take in the [INAUDIBLE]?
NICK NURSE: That's just how we drew it up.
- You seem to be more--
NICK NURSE: They did a good-- on that play, they did a good job. We shifted it over because Ayton was guarding Scottie, and as soon as we shifted, they shifted off us. So it put us in a funky situation and worked out perfectly.
- [INAUDIBLE] just seemed to handle himself pretty well, playing a very good center.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, you know what, he's-- the last couple of three or four days, he's seemed to rebound with some energy. He's feeling, I think, a little better physically right now. And that's kind of weird because he had a little MRI situation. And I think sometimes, usually, you get an MRI, they're going to find something in there.
Like if all of us went for an MRI, they'd find something on-- they gave a completely clean one for him. And I think that may have helped him a little bit. There's not a thing. We didn't see a thing in there, and he was just like-- I don't see. Maybe. I don't know. It seemed like it a little bit.
- Have you thought before the game about having a solid 20-minute session talking to the team. Is that effort-wise and sort of overall energy-wise the kind of response you were hoping for after yesterday?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, for sure. It's not the easiest decision in the world when you're going to do one of those sessions. I think you're rolling the dice a little bit. And it's a roll of the dice that turned out.
- What does it say about Christian that he's willing to take that? Is that important for us?
NICK NURSE: Well, he's a pretty good shooter. We haven't seen much of a shooting, but he's a pretty good shooter. He kind of came in as a good 17-foot shooter. He doesn't really take it any or got-- he's got really good mechanics and touch, but in the last, I don't know, month or so, the player development people have really-- we've tried to really work hard with him on starting with his corner 3's because we think he's got, again, good mechanics to do it, and pretty good touch.
So they've been working on it, and it's nice for those player development coaches, they certainly get a kick out of spending a month working on that stuff and then having it come through big in a game. As they should.
- I think you guys leaned on Gary pretty late there, pretty heavy. Was that Pascal being exhausted and you guys have to--
NICK NURSE: Gary was-- Gary just had it going. He just had it going, and it was nice to kind of flip back and forth between them a little bit. And they weren't exactly giving Pascal a ton of space out there just to get the ball to him. So it was nice to be able to go.
And we'll credit our execution at the offensive end has been well below average. It's one of the things we discussed in the 20-minutes session today. But we really executed some nice stuff down the stretch that we haven't run for a while. So it was stuff that's been in the back in the playbook, or whatever. But I don't know examples.
One of the-- remember when Pascal kind of came wheeling off to the right and blew to the basket for a layup late. That was something we haven't run for a while. But there, again, talked about screening early parts of the possession, playing with a lot more pace, cutting off that stuff a lot harder, and making better decisions.
And that's another thing I thought Scottie did tonight too was you didn't see the ball stick with him much. He either shot the ball or he attacked the closeout. And that's something we talked about today as well.
- Kind of with Thad, his plus minus for Thad, It's not ideal. But how did you feel he impacted the game?
NICK NURSE: I thought Thad was good. Just with-- you're right. Those two guys, Chris and Thad don't end up with a very good plus minus. But I thought they both were playing hard and assertive.
I thought Thad was really just like, I don't want to not play, so I'm going to go out there and be assertive and play. And he made a couple tough moves, to knock people back and finish. And I just thought he was playing-- he was really engaged.
- Coach, when you talk about the rolling the dice on those types of conversations when it comes to effort and stuff, is the flip side them not responding to that? Or what's the other side?
NICK NURSE: There's a spectrum there that they respond really well all the way down to not responding at all. So you hope it doesn't land on the other side of it. Yeah.
- Talk about you guys not executing the way you want, maybe offensively. What is some of the stuff that you wanted to see?
NICK NURSE: Just pace in general. And I don't just mean racing it up the floor. But that's part of pace. Just want to play starts. You got to go. And we were-- last night we were jogging through our stuff, and you're not going to get anything when you jog.
You're not going to put any separation on the defense. You're not going to put them under any duress. They're going to jog with you and be there when you're jogging. So just pace was the main thing and just a little better screen setting.
- You mentioned the switching the pick and rolls with Scottie and OG. Scottie was working really hard fronting Ayton on the backside. A lot of those switches, he winds up with four points a night. Anything-- thinking about the way that you guys have been hurt maybe by some big guys in the past. Anything to take forward there in terms of [INAUDIBLE]?
NICK NURSE: Well, we did a good job on Ayton. I think that the game plan-- I don't really want to tell you what it was on him because I think we got to play him again. But we executed it at a very high level on him. They did a good job on the switch, they made his catches tough. They challenged his shot. He had some looks, but they were all just a little bit under duress. And that's what we wanted.
- Nick, your team hasn't really been able to string together a winning streak so far this year. And you have a couple of days off before your next game, how do you feel like you're going to try to gain and maybe carry some momentum? Or is it hard to do when you know you're not playing for a couple days?
NICK NURSE: Well, we got to take a mandatory day off tomorrow after a back-to-back. I just asked them to get focused in, and the only thing I'm asking them to get focused in is on the effort areas. So that when that ball goes up the next time we play, we're ready to do those effort things.
And you guys have heard me say this a million times-- if we do those things, then we're going to put ourselves in position to win each night out, no matter who we're playing, where we're playing. So that's what the focus is.
- Is it harder to preach effort as opposed to something technical? I know one seems like it's something you can just pick up and do, and the other seems like it's something you have to achieve.
NICK NURSE: No, that's a good question because that was kind of part of today too is the technical stuff doesn't matter. It's like 0.05% of it if the effort part isn't there. So it doesn't matter unless the effort's there. And when you get the effort, you can start doing stuff. Like I'm always saying, play really hard and execute the schemes. That's what we did tonight for the most part.