Zaza Pachulia Reportedly Won't Be Punished for Play That Injured Kawhi Leonard

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2017

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14:  Zaza Pachulia #27 of the Golden State Warriors reacts to a foul called against him during Game One of the NBA Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at ORACLE Arena on May 14, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Golden State Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia has been the subject of criticism since San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard suffered an injury landing on his foot, but the NBA will reportedly not pursue further action.

Marc Stein of ESPN reported Monday the league is not expected to punish Pachulia. 

During Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday, Pachulia was closing out Leonard on the perimeter when the Spurs star rose for a jumper and came down on Pachulia's foot. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard won't play in Tuesday's Game 2, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN, and also had some pointed words about the play:

Jabari Young @JabariJYoung

Popovich just went off... felt Zaza's close out on Kawhi was inappropriate #Spurs #Warriors https://t.co/Y23hiz9swc

Jabari Young @JabariJYoung

When the word "intent" came up, Popovich went off again on the Zaza play #Spurs #Warriors https://t.co/hcyy9v6hBl

Popovich specifically mentioned the checkered history between Pachulia and Leonard, as well as other Spurs players in the past.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Pop calls out Zaza. Let's take a look back. https://t.co/YEkReAEOPN

Pachulia responded to Popovich's criticism by saying, "I'm not a dirty player," per Jason Appelbaum of KTVU Fox 2 in Oakland, California.

This incident stood out because San Antonio was in control at Oracle Arena until its MVP candidate went down. The Warriors ultimately roared back with Leonard sidelined and captured the 113-111 win, but CBS Sports stressed the extent of the setback's impact:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Just so we're clear... Kawhi's injury was a VERY big deal. https://t.co/cHSwWF7EMn

The Spurs were likely facing an uphill battle against the two-time defending Western Conference champions even with Leonard and will now need Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson to elevate their games with Leonard out.

As for Golden State, it appears it doesn't have to worry about a potential suspension for Pachulia and can keep him in the frontcourt rotation.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.