Nick Nurse's late timeout looms large over Raptors' Game 5 loss

The Toronto Raptors led late Monday in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors with a chance to secure an NBA championship in a Finals series they led 3-1.

After the Raptors had trailed by as many as 14 and started the quarter in an 84-78 hole, Kawhi Leonard scored 10 straight Toronto points to give his team a 103-97 lead with 3:28 remaining.

Stephen Curry missed a 3-point attempt on the other end. Fred VanVleet secured the rebound and walked the ball past halfcourt as Scotiabank Arena erupted, sensing the first NBA championship in Raptors and Canadian history and the ensuing celebration that would spill out onto the Toronto streets.

Timeout interrupts rally

What do the Raptors do? They called a timeout with 3:05 remaining.

With the Raptors having seized control of the game and lit a fire under a home crowd teeming with energy, head coach Nick Nurse decided it was time to take a break.

Warriors seize control after timeout

After the timeout, Leonard air-balled a turnaround jumper. Klay Thompson responded with a 3-pointer to cut Toronto’s lead in half.

Stephen Curry would respond with another Warriors 3-pointer to tie the game before Thompson completed a 9-0 run with his seventh 3-pointer of the game to take a 106-103 lead that Golden State would not relinquish.

Warriors winOpportunity squandered. On to Game 6 in Oakland.

One of the many questions following a game that saw Kevin Durant go down with an Achilles injury was placed at Nurse’s feet.

9 PHOTOS
Kevin Durant injures leg during NBA Finals Game 5
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Kevin Durant injures leg during NBA Finals Game 5
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) goes down with a leg injury against the Toronto Raptors during first half action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kevin Durant #35 is helped to his feet by Klay Thompson #11 and Quinn Cook #4 of the Golden State Warriors after sustaining an injury against the Toronto Raptors in the first half during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors reacts as Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors is carried off the court in the first half during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant, alero de los Warriors de Golden State, es ayudado a salir de la cancha tras lesionarse durante el quinto partido de la Final de la NBA ante los Raptors de Toronto, el lunes 10 de junio de 2019 (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant glances up at the stands as he walks off the court after sustaining an injury during first half basketball action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is consoled as he walks off the court after sustaining an injury during first half basketball action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) walks off the court after sustaining an injury as Toronto Raptors' Serge Ibaka (9) addresses the crowd, while Warriors' Andre Iguodala (9) and Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) look on during first half basketball action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors is assisted off the court after sustaining an injury in the first half against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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So why did Nurse call timeout?

“We had two free ones that you lose under the three-minute mark,” Nurse said. “We’d just came across and just decided to give those guys a rest. And we had back-to-back ones there that we would have lost under the three-minute mark and just thought we could use the extra energy push.”

So there you have it. You can’t take ‘em with you.

Nurse appeared to be going by the strategy that unused timeouts are wasted timeouts. Never mind there was no indication the Raptors needed a rest — or that a timeout would simultaneously allow the Warriors to rest too.

This one could hurt

It’s not Nurse’s finest moment that’s seen him at the helm of the greatest season in Raptors history.

If Toronto goes on to win the championship, this will be swept under the rug of sports history. If not, Nurse’s timeout will be a featured player in the list of miscues that led the Raptors to blow a 3-1 NBA Finals lead.

21 PHOTOS
Photos and major moments from the 2019 NBA Finals
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Photos and major moments from the 2019 NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors guard Quinn Cook, left, passes the ball around Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during second-half basketball action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, left, falls over Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka, bottom, as Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) looks on during first-half basketball game action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) stops Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Friday, June 7, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) makes a layup as Golden State Warriors forward Jordan Bell (2) defends during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol (33) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, left, and center DeMarcus Cousins during the second half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka (9) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, Pool)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors attempts a shot against Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Pool - Nathan Denette/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors argues with Warriors minority investor Mark Stevens (blue shirt) after Lowry chased down a loose ball in the second half against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 05, 2019 in Oakland, California. According to to the Warriors, Stevens will not be in attendance for the remainder of the NBA Finals as they look further into the incident. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors attempts a shot against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 05, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: DeMarcus Cousins #0 of the Golden State Warriors attempts to block a shot from Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a shot against Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the net against Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguaodala (9) defends during Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Gregory Shamus/Pool Photo via AP)
Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green (14) reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry fouls Golden State Warriors centre Kevon Looney (5) during the second half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts during the second half of Game 1 of the team's basketball’s NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 02: Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors reacts to a foul call against the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 02, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 02: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors is defended by Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 02, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: Rapper Drake and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors exchange words during a timeout in the first quarter during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguaodala (9) defends during Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Gregory Shamus/Pool Photo via AP)
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