San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has every right to be upset about his star forward Kawhi Leonard getting injured in Game 1, and he wasn't afraid to share his opinion on the play.
Popovich is not planning to call the National Basketball Association to demand further discipline for Pachulia, who was called for a personal foul on the play, but made it clear where he stands. "It's risky. It's unsportsmanlike".
"This particular individual has a history with that kind of action".
Anyone who claims Pachulia, with a long history of dirty plays and attempts to injure players in various ways, including Leonard himself last season, didn't put his feet under a shooting Leonard on objective is either blind or simply lying.
Leonard dismissed the notion that his latest injury came as a result of dirty play on Pachulia's part. I just love this game and I'm playing hard. I wish it's nothing serious for him because we are colleagues at the end of the day.
It's tough to think that in the moment, Pachulia would know exactly where to place his foot to hurt Leonard.
San Antonio held a 23-point lead at the time of the injury but couldn't hold off a furious comeback without its best player and dropped to a 113-111 defeat.
Golden State outscored the Spurs 20-2 in fast-break points after Leonard's injury. Then Golden State went on a huge run to win the game by two points.
But Leonard tweaked the ankle when he stepped back into the Spurs' bench while attempting a 3-pointer early in the third period.
But Popovich wasn't buying any defense from Pachulia about lack of intent.
"Who gives a damn about what his intent was", Popovich told media members after the game, per Mercury News.
No way can the Spurs beat Golden State without Leonard.
This was an opportunity for the Warriors to jump on the defensive and stand up for a teammate, but surprisingly, there wasn't much of that at all on Monday.
The Spurs announced late in the third quarter Leonard had sprained his left ankle and wouldn't play again.
Pachulia stuck to his story at Warriors practice on Monday, repeating his previous statements that he was merely trying to contest Leonard's shot and that he hadn't meant to slide underneath him. We just tried to contest a shot. It was a handoff situation and I saw that my teammate was behind the screen.
At the time of his exit, Leonard had 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and the Spurs led 78-55. And you want to know how we feel? With their best player on the sidelines, the Warriors continued their charge and a Durant dunk with 7:20 left brought them to within 94-90.
"You obviously want to be as healthy as you can", guard Patty Mills said.
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