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Coach Nick Nurse fined $15K for criticizing referees

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After the Raptors’ recent loss in Denver, Toronto’s coach Nick Nurse was fired up — and it cost him.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Let it not be said that Nick Nurse will not go to war for his players on the Raptors. Fresh off their second defeat in a row, this time in Denver, Toronto’s head coach decided to let loose on what he felt was some poor officiating — particularly as it relates to his star player Kawhi Leonard.

Most observers figured it would cost Nurse some money, especially when you read his words below. Now we know exactly how much, since the NBA has officially levied its punishment.

To understand how we got here with Nurse, let’s go back to Sunday night in Denver. The Athletic’s Eric Koreen was on the scene at the time and helpfully reported this transcription:

And how did Nurse feel after the Raptors’ performance on Sunday against the Nuggets, which ultimately ended in a 95-86 loss?

Setting aside the subjectivity of that final tweet (which could be argued, since the Raptors didn’t outplay the Nuggets — they lost the game!), Nurse definitely has a point with respect to the amount of, uh, respect paid to Kawhi.

If you’ve watched any Raptors games this year, you’ve undoubtedly seen Leonard making plays at the rim, and taking a healthy dose of contact for his troubles. As Leonard himself has said, he’s going to keep playing his way, and trying to be as physical as he can be within the rules — even if they aren’t always going to be applied the right way when it comes to defensive contact against him.

[Cut to the Raptors Ref Truthers coming out of the wordwork]

Fortunately, as Leonard confirmed today, he does indeed enjoy his coach sticking up for him, even if it costs said coach 15 grand in the process. When asked this afternoon about Nurse’s comments and support, Leonard had this to say:

All of which is to say: Kawhi is staying. (Though no word yet on whether Kawhi will step in and pay coach Nurse’s fine.)