New York Daily News
Nash is Zen-like when it comes to calling TOs
Blake Griffin has been on the other side before.
His rookie year was Phil Jackson’s last as Lakers head coach, and Griffin remembers the Los Angeles rivalry that season. He specifically remembers how the ‘Zen Master’ wouldn’t call timeouts despite unanswered Clipper baskets.
“We’d go on a run and he’d just kind of stand there and watch and sort of just be like you know, figure it out,” Griffin recalled.
Now Griffin’s on the side, with Steve Nash as master-in-training.
Nash has remained consistent all season long. He would rather not call a timeout if it robs his team of an opportunity to problem-solve, to figure it out on their own and fight through adversity as a unit. That flew earlier in the season, and in many respects, it worked.
But the Nets lost some of those games, games that had they won, they may not have needed a win as badly against the Bucks on Tuesday night. Remember that 18-point loss to the Hawks on Jan. 1? Also known as Brooklyn’s worst defensive performance at that point of the season?
Nash chose not to call a timeout while the Hawks ran up a 20-point lead in the second quarter, prioritizing an opportunity to solve problems on their own over securing a chance to win a victory.
The same happened against the Bucks on Tuesday. This time in a game that mattered. This time in the fourth quarter.
Mike James hit a 28-foot stepback to give the Nets a 103-97 lead, their biggest of the night, at the 10-minute mark of the fourth. Milwaukee then responded eight times in a row before Kyrie Irving stopped the bleeding with a mid-range pullup five-and-a-half minutes later.
When all was said and done, the Bucks went on an 18-3 run, turning that six-point deficit into an 11-point lead.
An official stoppage of play didn’t come until Mike Budenholzer called a timeout for the Bucks at the 4:40 mark after a 15-point swing, and by the time Nash thought about calling one, the game, he felt, had already been decided.
“Tonight, maybe I could have called another timeout, but you also want to make sure you save a few for the end of the game,” he
Zen the explained. “So yeah I was caught in a little dilemma. Maybe I should have, but at the same time, I don’t think it was going to make a big difference at that point.”
That’s one side of the equation. Here’s the other: The Nets didn’t get blasted in the X’s and O’s. They were physically dominated to the tune of 15 Bucks offensive rebounds for 20 second-chance points, a 55-39 rebounding margin overall.
“Tonight I thought we got outworked. So, what? You’re gonna call a timeout and say what? Play harder?” Griffin said. “That should just be a thing that we visually see and we know to do a better job at. So you know, if it’s a game planning mistake or it’s something that he sees, maybe (call a timeout). But I don’t think he was wrong at all.”
Despite the decision against calling a timeout, the Nets still had a chance to make it a two-point game with just over a minute to go in the fourth, and had Kevin Durant made either of his two good looks on the same possession, the Nets may have mustered the momentum to turn the tide.
Durant aptly noted Nash has called timeouts in different scenarios, some so-called “good” timeouts that still led to losses, and other decisions not to call timeouts that led to victories.
“I think it is good for us to problem-solve and figure things out and continue to keep growing as a unit when things get tough out there and we still end up making it a game after that, you know what I’m saying?” Durant said. “We were down 11 points, I think, and (then) we were down five, and I had the ball in my hands with (about) a minute to go. So I think we fought through that little stretch, as well. It’s plenty of times this year that I’ve seen coach do both things — call a timeout or let us play.”
One thing’s clear: Nash is going to do in the moment what he thinks is best for the grand scheme. His Zen-like approach to calling timeouts did not pay dividends on Tuesday night, but it could help the team moving forward, provided he calls a timeout before the team digs itself a hole it can’t climb out of.
“I think it depends on the situation. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong,” said Griffin. “I’ve played for coaches who’ve called that quick timeout. It just depends on your style, it depends on the game.”