San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shifted the attention of the Western Conference finals away from his team's problems Monday and squarely onto what he labeled the unsportsmanlike means by which the Golden State Warriors grabbed an early lead in the best-of-seven series.
Leonard left the game after he stepped on the foot of Warriors center Zaza Pachulia following a jumper.
Pachulia took exception with Popovich's assessment of his play.
"Who gives a (darn) what his intent was?" You ever hear of manslaughter?
There's also the fact that Popovich's team was the one that employed Bruce Bowen - the player for whom this foul was put in place.
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"A two-step, lead-with-your-foot closeout is not appropriate", he said.
So - a day after the Spurs' legendary coach lit into President Donald Trump - there was Popovich hell to pay, and he did his growling best, calling Pachulia's actions "dangerous" and "unsportsmanlike" and bringing up Pachulia's previous brushes with overt physicality on the basketball floor.
Following an MRI on Monday afternoon, Kawhi Leonard's ankle was reportedly left without structural damage.
"I understand the Warriors are a very talented team, so we're going to have to be really sharp tomorrow", forward Pau Gasol said.
Leonard was the understated MVP-candidate of the 2016-17 season, averaging 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals and leading the Spurs to a 61-21 record in their first year of the post-Tim Duncan era. Six different players had at least six points, and Kevin Durant (11 points) joined Curry in double figures. Winning against the odds-on favorites to win the title without their star player, however, is an even more hard challenge.
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Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard feels the pain of injury after a foot collision with Warriors centre Zaza Pachulia. You will NOT change the way you play defense'. "It's happened to me as well, and once you play this kind of physical game, intense game, things happen".
Kerr's playing career spanned 910 games over 16 seasons.
Hours later after Popovich's press conference, National Basketball Association analysts and former players gathered around the roundtable on various networks to discuss whether the presumed Hall-of-Fame coach was right for lashing out on Pachulia.
"No, I didn't call the league", Popovich said.
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A fitting ride these days for a player who just keeps rolling along. "He's like: 'I don't care". "That was the right defence from my side to challenge the shot. That's now how ZaZa plays". Game 1 was a prime example, KD was largely held in check in the first half. LaMarcus is not a dirty player. Make no mistake. The Warriors are not the Rockets, whose lack of overall mental toughness left them ripe for a letdown against the hobbled Spurs. Thank you for giving me a reason to watch the conference finals again.