After struggling early in the game, the Golden State Warriors managed to bounce back and defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night at Oracle Arena. Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard suffered another injury, resulting for him to miss the rest of the second half.
With 7:54 left in the third quarter, Leonard took a corner jumper and landed on Zaza Pachulia’s foot. Pachulia was whistled for a foul in which some people believe was intentional. After hitting two free throws, Leonard headed to the locker room and never returned.
Zaza Pachulia denies that foul on Kawhi Leonard was intentional
The Warriors took advantage of Leonard’s absence to overturn the outcome of the game. Before the foul, the Spurs led by 21 points. However, when Leonard left the game, the Warriors outscored 56-30 to win the Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors were noticeable struggling earlier in the game and were unable to stop the Spurs’ dominance on the offensive end. Fortunately, they managed to regain their rhythm when Leonard suffered an injury. Some people accused Pachulia of purposely hurting Leonard to help the first get their first win.
“I had to challenge the shot,” Pachulia said. “Especially because it was a handoff situation and I saw my teammate was behind the screen and I had to challenge the shot. I hate anybody going down like that with an injury. I’m an athlete too, so I know how it feels and I don’t wish that on anybody.”
Kevin Durant, who finished with 34 points, five rebounds, four steals and four blocks, defended Pachulia from his critics. Durant said that they’re not the type of team who’ll intentionally hurt a player just to win the game. The Warriors superstar also wished Leonard a fast recovery.
“Zaza’s not a dirty player. You’ve got to time that perfectly if you want to hurt somebody,” Durant said. “We’re not that type of team. Kawhi’s an unbelievable player. We’ve got nothing but respect for him. We wish that he gets healthy. We just tried to contest a shot. Guys are playing hard. It was an unfortunate situation. I wish it didn’t happen, but I don’t think it was intentional. You can’t listen to people on Twitter, they’re irrational.”
Kawhi Leonard to undergo an MRI on Monday
In a post-game interview, Kawhi Leonard dismissed the notion that Pachulia hurt him on purpose. The Spurs forward will be undergoing an MRI on Monday to determine if he can play in Game 2 or not. Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals matchup between the Warriors and the Spurs will be on Tuesday night at the Oracle Arena.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr
Video courtesy: Youtube/Free Ximo