By calling out Pachulia, Popovich wants people to know three things

By calling out Pachulia, Popovich wants people to know three things

Gregg Popovich sent his Zaza Pachulia-has-a-history message Monday, a detailed and extended review of Pachulia’s M.O. in the wake of Kawhi Leonard’s resprained left ankle which will cost him Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

Popovich also sent his usual unspoken-yet-clear “That’s a dumb question” snark-o-gram, but I suspect he did that just for his own amusement, especially after he finished with a request for a follow-up question that floored the house.

In other words, he chose Monday to love the media. He genuinely loves it with a utilitarian backhand, in much the same way that a proper artisan loves a good hammer and chisel. I mean, you like the tool and all, but you probably wouldn’t buy it flowers.

[RELATED: Gregg Popovich goes off on Zaza Pachulia: 'Totally unnatural closeout']

But Popovich had a tale to move, that of Pachulia’s culpability in Leonard’s game-changing injury early in the third quarter of Game 1. He wanted people to know the following:

(A) He’s quite irked about losing Leonard for Game 2 and perhaps beyond on what he believes was at best a cynical foul and at worst a dirty play.

(B) He expects that the officials for Game 2 (whom I am guessing will be Mike Callahan, Bill Kennedy and Ed Malloy, give or take a Pat Fraher) will take proper extrajudicial notice of the incident and somehow treat the Spurs with greater care.

And (C) he does not intend to go down 2-0 in this series without a fight on all fronts, including the psychological one.

So, with the mandatory humor-the-proles session Monday to be done anyway, he used it to best benefit and sent that three-pronged message. And he was probably grateful to have the opportunity, though he wouldn’t have needed permission to do so.

You see, Popovich, being the smart guy he is, knows that even painfully obligatory tasks can be put to use when needed, and he did so to great effect Monday, in large part because he meant every word of it. He thinks Pachulia is effectively clumsy in that Andrew Bogut way, and sometimes effectively extra-legal, also in that Andrew Bogut way. Pachulia is an industrial-strength center with the subtleties of a rhinoceros horn in the abdomen, because that’s how he got to stay in the league so long. You do what you gots to do, after all.

Popovich’s rantlet doesn’t heal Leonard’s ankle any faster, and may not even convince Tony Brothers, Sean Wright and Jim Capers, (give or take a Sean Corbin) to be any more mindful of Pachulia’s illusory subtleties. But looking at the hand is left to play, and then the Warriors’ hand, he realized that desperate times call for desperate measures.

Like needing the media for a few minutes – the length of a properly constructed rock song, and the outer limit of the modern person’s attention span.

In short, Gregg Popovich played the role left to him on the off-day between games. It’s all part of knowing what’s on the tool belt.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller