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Raptors’ Nick Nurse speaks out on timeout, momentum in wake of Game 5 mishap

Marc Gasol, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green

Nick Nurse is clearly unfazed by widespread criticism of his decision to call back-to-back timeouts late in the fourth quarter of his team’s 106-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Still, that hardly means the Toronto Raptors’ coach doesn’t believe in the concept of momentum.

“Momentum is definitely real in everything in life, from the moment you get up to a basketball game moment. No doubt about it,” he said on Wednesday, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN. “Sometimes timeouts stop them; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes not taking one stops it and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s kind of the world we live in on the basketball court. You take them. Sometimes you don’t and sometimes you do. Deep thoughts.”

Nurse, flush with timeouts, called two of them in succession with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter, just after the Raptors took a 103-97 lead over the Warriors courtesy of Kawhi Leonard’s stunning 10-0 individual run. Scotiabank Arena was in a frenzy, Golden State looked tired, and Toronto had the opportunity to extend its lead even further en route to the first title in franchise history. Instead, Nurse thought it best to let his team catch its breath and regain its composure, a perfectly understandable decision.

One problem: The Warriors went on a 9-0 run out of the double timeout, courtesy of two threes from Klay Thompson and one from Steph Curry, re-taking a lead they would never relinquish. Nurse, of course, wouldn’t have faced any blow-back whatsoever if the Raptors had been able to hold onto their advantage, which would have been as simple as Kyle Lowry making a wide-open corner three with just over two minutes remaining.

Such is life as a coach at the game’s highest level. Fortunately for Nurse, he seems more than equipped to deal with it.