Moments after the Kawhi Leonard watched idly from the locker room as his San Antonio Spurs forfeited a 25-point lead in their Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors, the All-Star forward said he did not believe Zaza Pachulia intentionally injured his ankle.
Kawhi told me he does not think the Zaza play was dirty. Said he was just contesting the shot.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) May 14, 2017
Kevin Durant came to his teammate’s defense, saying after the game, “Zaza's not a dirty player.”
“You've got to time that perfectly if you want to hurt somebody,” Durant said during his postgame press conference. “We're not that type of team. You can't listen to people on Twitter. They're irrational.”
Leonard injured his left ankle in the third quarter of the Spurs’ 113-111 loss to the Warriors on Sunday while accidentally stepping on the ankle of David Lee, who was sitting on the bench inches away. The Spurs’ forward left then re-entered moments later, but would re-injured his ankle after Pachulia slid underneath him while contesting a jump shot.
Leonard called his ankle re-injury “very painful,” according to the San Antonio Express-News’ Mike Finger, though he did not rule out a return for Game 2.
Pachulia also spoke after the game saying the move was not intentional.
Zaza Pachulia on whether he undercut Kawhi Leonard: "That's really stupid. ... I hate anybody going down like that. ... I'm an athlete too."— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 14, 2017
Leonard’s injury was to the same ankle he hurt in Game 5 of the Spurs’ second-round series against the Houston Rockets. San Antonio went on to win that series in six games, blowing Houston out by 39 in the deciding game.
The Spurs couldn’t find the same fortune against the Warriors in Game 1, though. After Leonard’s injury, Golden State went on an 18-0 run to slash down on a 25-point lead. They outscored the Spurs, 71-49, in the second half, including a 58-33 barrage in the 19-plus minutes Leonard missed in the second half.
Leonard had 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the 24 minutes he played.