Spurs' Leonard out for Game 2; Popovich rips Pachulia
San Francisco — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has ruled Kawhi Leonard out for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals because of a sprained left ankle after what Popovich described as a “dangerous” and “unsportsmanlike” closeout by Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia.
Leonard had an MRI on Monday and Popovich had no timetable on when he’d be able to return to action.
“We’ll see what the MRI says, but obviously he won’t play (tonight),” Popovich said.
Leonard left Game 1 on Sunday after re-injuring his tender left ankle in the third quarter when Pachulia’s foot slid under Leonard’s following a jumper by the All-Star forward.
The play happened in front of the Spurs bench. Popovich was angry and even more upset a day after San Antonio’s 113-111 loss to the Warriors.
“A two-step, lead-with-your-foot closeout is not appropriate,” he said. “It’s dangerous, it’s unsportsmanlike. It’s just not what anybody does to anybody else. And this particular individual has a history with that kind of action.”
Popovich pointed to a history of borderline plays by Pachulia during his time with Dallas against the Spurs, including a flagrant foul against Patty Mills, a play where he locked arms with Mills in a way that “could have broken his arm,” according to Popovich, and run-ins with David West.
Pachulia denied any intent to injure Leonard after the game and his teammates came to his defense. But Popovich was concerned only with the result not the intent.
“Because he has this history, it can’t just be, ‘Oh, it’s inadvertent. He didn’t have intent,’” Popovich said.
“Who gives a damn about what his intent was. You ever hear of manslaughter? You still go to jail, I think, when you’re texting and you end up killing somebody but you might not have intended to do that. All I care about is what I saw. All I care about is what happened and the history there exacerbates the whole situation and makes me very angry.”
Leonard didn’t return, giving Golden State an opening for an 18-0 run that keyed the comeback win.
Leonard scored 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting in nearly 24 minutes to go with eight rebounds and three assists. He made all 11 of his free throws.
“If he would have played and they ended up winning, I’d go get dinner, have a glass of wine and wake up the next day and go to practice and move on,” Popovich said. “But this is crap.”