Kawhi Leonard does not think Zaza Pachulia intentionally stepped under him
Kawhi Leonard seems to think that the pitchforks can be put away.
The San Antonio Spurs superstar left Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter and did not return after landing on Warriors center Zaza Pachulia’s foot on a jump shot attempt (video here). After the game, Leonard was asked about the play.
“Did he step under it? Like on purpose? No, he was contesting the shot,” said the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, per Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News. “The shot clock was coming down. I’ll have to see the play.”
Judging by the video, Pachulia definitely appeared to take an extra step on the closeout to undercut Leonard on his troublesome left ankle. At the very least though, the referees determined that Pachulia failed to give the jump-shooter enough room to land and whistled him for a common foul on the play.
The Spurs were up 23 points when Leonard exited the game for good with 7:52 left in the third, but the Warriors came all the way back and won by 2, drastically swinging the landscape of the conference final series. Leonard’s comments likely won’t do much to quell the widespread outrage over the play, but at least he doesn’t believe that there was any intent on Pachulia’s part.