The Minnesota Timberwolves endured the longest 0.4 seconds in the history of time before beating the Toronto Raptors, 128-126, at Target Center on Thursday night. Toronto led for most of the game, but the Wolves mounted a comeback and took a lead on two D’Angelo Russell free throws.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse took his second-to-last timeout, and Taurean Prince substituted in for Russell. Toronto inbounds and Pascal Siakam races down the court with less than ten seconds left, dishes the ball to OG Anunoby, who misses a wide-open corner three to win the game.
Not so fast.
The ball falls out of bounds at roughly the same time the buzzer sounds. The officials review the tape, give the Wolves the ball, and put 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Let’s let Chris Finch take it from there:
I mean, they clearly called our ball, and it was a clock malfunction, is what they were trying to look at the replay to reset the clock. At that point in time, when they rewarded us the ball, I called timeout to advance it. At which point, Toronto calls timeout to challenge, which I’m not sure if you can call a timeout to challenge after another play or action. I don’t know — I need to check on that.
And then they rewarded them the challenge. I wanted my timeout back because I never would have called a timeout in that situation. I would have let, see what happened. I wouldn’t have wasted a timeout there. And they wouldn’t give me my timeout back.
So I don’t know what the protocol is in that situation, at all.
To recap: Finch called a timeout to advance the ball, not to score, but to reduce the likelihood that Minnesota turns the ball over and the Raptors score a quick bucket. However, he only had one timeout left at the end of the game. By taking it to advance the ball, he lost the option to call a timeout to avoid a five-second call — and therefore, a turnover.
The NBA does not allow coaches on opposing teams to call back-to-back timeouts in the interest of speed of play. However, Nurse didn’t call timeout to discuss strategy; he wanted to challenge the call. It’s a tricky situation that could have put Minnesota at a disadvantage and caused the game to drag on — two things no fan wants to see.