Kawhi Leonard Doesn’t Think Zaza Pachulia’s Move Was Intentional

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard Doesn’t Think Zaza Pachulia’s Move Was Intentional


A defender closing out on a jump shooter, sliding up an extra step to be very close, taking away space, making it almost impossible for the shooter to safely land. Say what you want, this is a dirty play and has injured plenty of players before.

Intentional or not, this is excatly what Zaza Pachulia did to Kawhi Leonard. Zaza took an extra step after Kawhi released the ball, taking away a safe landing spot for Leonard, resulting in Leonard landing on Pachulia’s left foot and aggravating his already sprained left ankle.



After that play, a huge discussion started online, to evaluate and talk about the possibility of Zaza intentionally closing in on Kawhi, and possibly injuring him on purpose. When asked about the scene, Pachulia said he wasn’t trying to injure Leonard.


“I just did what I was supposed to do and challenged his shot, and I turned around and there was a call. I didn’t notice that he was down until I turned back. I didn’t see what happened there. I don’t think I should be making any comment, I’m not that good to be doing intentional stuff like that. I did my part. I had to challenge the shot. It was a handoff situation and I saw that my teammate was behind the screen. I had to challenge the shot. That’s what I did. And I turned around for the rebound and that was it. I hate anybody going down like that with an injury. I’m an athlete, too, so I know how it feels. I wish it’s nothing serious for him because we are colleagues at the end of the day. So we’re going to move on.”


I believe Zaza when he says that he wasn’t trying to injure Leonard, which does not mean that the play wasn’t cheap.It is a very dangerous play. A defender taking away the shooter’s landing spot by closing in after the shot, should possibly be called for a flagrant one.

After the game, Kawhi Leonard said he didn’t think the injury was intentional, when asked Kawhi said:


“He was contesting a shot. The shot clock was coming down and, I’ll have to see the play.”


Kawhi Leonard will have an MRI on his left ankle today to see if there is any structural damage. For now, we’ll consider him questionable for Game 2, with thim likely going to be a game-time call.

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