Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse faced criticism after Game 5 on Monday night for his decision to take a timeout with his team up six points late in the fourth quarter.
Nurse called timeout with just over three minutes left in the game and his team up 103-97 on the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Raptors, who got 10 straight points from Kawhi Leonard before the timeout, surrendered three straight three-pointers to the Warriors after the break to lose their lead and wound up falling 106-105, missing a chance to clinch their first-ever NBA Finals on home court.
"We just came across and just decided to give those guys a rest," Nurse said of the timeout post-game. "[We] just thought we could use the extra energy push."
The Raptors, who were in the midst of a 12-2 run before the timeout, made just one of their last six shots in the game's final 180 seconds.
"At that time I felt that he probably wanted to get us some rest," Leonard said. "You never know. I mean, if we would have won the game, we wouldn't be talking about it."
The Raptors had a chance to win the game late after an offensive foul by DeMarcus Cousins, but Kyle Lowry's last-second three-point attempt was blocked by Draymond Green.
"It felt great out of my hand," Lowry said. "He got a piece of it. That's what great defenders do. He got a piece of it and we'll continue to look at it and see how we can be better for the next game."
Leonard, the team's leading scorer with 26 points in Game 5, explained his decision not to shoot on the final possession.
"Well, I mean two guys came up on me. I don't know if I could have got a shot off," he said. "It's hard. If you got two guys on top of you, you have to try to find the right play. We ended up getting a shot in the corner, but it just didn't go off quick enough."
Game 6 will take place Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.