NETS 101, RAPTORS 91 — WHAT THEY SAID: “I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are right now, I think we’re extremely pleased to get to this point. The good news is I think we’ll Marc Gasol back after the break. Norman Powell is pretty close as well. Obviously that’s what is most important, is to get our team back as a whole. I think our team really battled well with a couple of key guys missing. I think we’ve had a healthy team for two games this season, so we’ve done a nice job of plugging in and picking up.” — NICK NURSE.


On what intangibles were present for the Nets tonight: “I think I said it before the game, our compete level, our intensity level has to be three levels higher than them to have an opportunity to win the game. I thought our physicality, the things we were missing in the last two games against them, I thought we just raised that. We wanted it bad. The execution wasn’t perfect, but our will to win was at a super-high level. That’s why we came out with the W.”

On how big it has been to have balanced scoring: “I think – I don’t know how many turnovers we had – we took care of it. Against this team, you have to take care of it. You have to limit their transition points, and we’re starting to get some chemistry with the guys and it’s flowing better on both sides of the ball. Tonight was really a story about our defense. Going into the All-Star break, I know we have 30-something games left, but we’re a top 10 defensive team. Obviously, offensively we have a ways to go. But that’s a nice — you know I said, what was our identity? That looks like our identity right now if you say pick one thing that the Nets are doing well, and I think our defense will probably be top eight after this game. So we have to continue that and then shoot the ball a little better on offense.”

On if he feels like the Nets are turning a corner by being able to go toe-to-toe against teams with winning records: “I think we understand that there’s potential to see these teams down the road in a more important scenario, so it’s important that we play well. It’s important that we get this information against a really good team if you have to face off against them in the playoffs. Obviously, this wasn’t a playoff game, but it gave us good information. I think when we’re healthy and we have our whole roster intact, we’ll be pretty good. Let’s see how this stretch after the All-Star break goes. It’s important. We really want to gain some momentum, be playing well at the end of the season. That’s the goal right now.”



On the team’s defensive mentality since the last Toronto matchup: “I think the process has been right. Sometimes you get a little fortunate, teams are off. I thought tonight and especially against Indiana we just did a better job contesting every shot. We did a good job scrambling around. A lot of times defense gets broken down, but it’s about the second effort, closing out still getting contests. You know, we just talked about trying to be the more aggressive and assertive team on both ends. Especially when you play against quality teams. That’s usually what dictates the game, who is able to establish as the aggressor early on.”

On the team’s growth, ability to go toe-to-toe with quality teams: “It’s definitely a step in the right direction. Especially going to Indiana getting a win there. I don’t think we’d beaten any teams over .500 on the road all year, so for us to go on the road and have a big win like that is just good in terms of confidence going forward. Obviously we’re going to have a lot of tough games after the All-Star break. I don’t think anyone’s looking too far ahead. The biggest thing right now is making sure some guys recover but also some guys getting enough work over the break. Last time we had a few days off (after the holidays) we turned around and were 3–13. So I think a lot of guys are still trying to stay locked in. Take advantage of the time off that we have, rest, recuperate, get our bodies right and make sure we finish off this second half of the year strong.”

On ramping up effort with the possibility of playoffs: “Yeah, I think at the end of the day all you really want is just to be playing quality basketball. We started sharing the ball better. Guys are starting to find their rhythm in terms of shooting. And then the effort, the focus defensively I think it’s just been, we’ve been more cohesive. Whether it’s a testament to the focus, locking in with the preparation or whatever it might be. I think we knew how important this stretch was going into the break. It’s just a testament to guys locking in and staying focused and we just need to continue to do that moving forward.”



On what the energy is like in the locker room after a big win like tonight’s: “It’s a great win. Especially snapping that 15-game win streak. It’s a big mark for us.”

On how much sharing the ball offensively has been a point of emphasis: “I wouldn’t say it’s been a point of emphasis. We’ve been working on our defense and you always hear defense goes to offense.”

On if their recent wins against teams with lower records helped them get into a groove to win against teams with winning records: “It definitely does. Everybody talks about momentum in this league and that’s definitely what it is. Coming into these two games, these last three games before the break, tough schedule. Toronto, Indiana and then back to Toronto, we definitely had a good momentum coming in to this.”

On if teams like Toronto bring the intensity out of the Nets or is it a conscious mentality that they bring into the game: “It definitely has to be a conscious mentality. There have been games before where we came in not with the best mindset and got blown out. I’ll take Milwaukee for an example. They blew us out. But today, you could just feel the energy when we came into the locker room, we had shoot around before. Everybody was pumped up ready to play.”



On what his mentality is heading into the All-Star break: “I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are right now, I think we’re extremely pleased to get to this point. The good news is I think we’ll Marc Gasol back after the break. Norman Powell is pretty close as well. Obviously that’s what is most important, is to get our team back as a whole. I think our team really battled well with a couple of key guys missing. I think we’ve had a healthy team for two games this season, so we’ve done a nice job of plugging in and picking up. In the big scheme of things, you look at the overall of where you’re sitting and we have to be pleased with that.”

On what the makeup of this team is this year without Kawhi Leonard: “Well, I think that we’re hoping that some of these guys have taken some steps forward. Obviously Kawhi (Leonard) is a late-game closer on both ends of the floor. Pascal Siakam has to assume that role. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol have kind of stepped forward to assume the secondary role to Pascal Siakam. Fred VanVleet continues to get better. Norman Powell, before he got hurt, was getting better. So probably it’ll be a little more by committee on both ends and trying to figure out matchups. Again, our team has played pretty well. We’ve got some growth to do and we need to do for sure if we want to make a run at it again.”



On the win streak ending and what he saw tonight: “It is what it is, man. I just think we didn’t have enough juice to overcome some of the things that were going on tonight. So, just didn’t have enough juice. I thought we were a little flat early and just couldn’t really get it going after that. It is what it is. We weren’t going to win them all. The break has come at a good time. Everybody is going on break and take some time and come back and get one started again.”

On what the Nets did differently tonight compared to past matchups: “Give them credit, they went and won the game. I’m not going to disrespect those guys, but we didn’t really make it that difficult for them. I don’t know how much adjustments they made. They just kind of played a little harder, fought a little harder. They hustled more, made their shots and we didn’t make ours. I didn’t see too many gameplay switches from them, felt pretty similar out there. We just didn’t play well enough to win, and they did.”

On if it felt like there was any carry over from the two teams’ last matchup: “They played us tough last game. This is a good team. Anybody can lose any given night in the NBA. It wasn’t like we were overlooking them or anything. We know they’re a tough team, they’re a playoff team and they played us tough pretty much every time we play them, and tonight was no different. Like I said, we just didn’t have enough to get over the hump tonight.”



On if the All-Star break comes at a bad time following a loss: “I’m glad to get away, we need separation. You’ve been grinding since September and you need this time to kind of mentally decompress, physically decompress, and have guys go live their lives. Then we come back together and have the kind of newfound excitement to see each other again. That’s the one thing about the break, it gives you that time away from your brothers. You love being around them. We have a great team, so we don’t mind being around each other. But you know when you get back together it’s kind of like alright fellas, good to see you let’s have some more fun.”

On where he saw game plan changes from the Nets after playing them this past weekend: “They made shots, they played well. We didn’t play too well. They stuck with their coverages, they stuck with their game plan, they stuck with their schemes. We played kind of like walking zombies. We didn’t play well tonight, simple as that. We missed shots, we weren’t aggressive, we just didn’t play well. Give them credit. They played their butts off and they beat us. It’s only one game.”

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