Warriors

Zaza takes high road after Popovich pops off on 'unsportsmanlike' play

Zaza takes high road after Popovich pops off on 'unsportsmanlike' play

OAKLAND -- The fallout from Warriors center Zaza Pachulia’s aggressive closeout on Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, resulting in Leonard landing on Pachulia’s foot and aggravating a sprained ankle, continued Monday, with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich going on the offensive and the Warriors barely bothering to respond.

Popovich lit into Pachulia’s character Monday morning, accusing the Warriors center of “dangerous” behavior Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals and having a history of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Given an opportunity to respond Monday afternoon, Pachulia took the high road. Moreover, he insisted he’s unaffected by comments made by the highly respected San Antonio coach.

“No, not really, it doesn't bother me,” Pachulia said after Warriors practice. “Because I want to say the last time and that's it: I did whatever I had to do.”

Switched out when Kevin Durant was screened off Leonard, Pachulia pushed up on Leonard as he rose to shoot. Further advanced while Leonard was in the air, Pachulia’s left foot rested almost directly beneath Leonard.

Pachulia was whistled for a foul for, in essence, invading Leonard’s landing area, which actually is a foul -- despite it being a common action by defenders. That it resulted in Leonard leaving the game, imperiling his status for the remainder of the series, ignited a firestorm of debate about Pachulia’s intention.

“A two-step lead-with-your-foot closeout is not appropriate,” Popovich told reporters Monday at the team hotel in San Francisco. “It's dangerous, it's unsportsmanlike, it's just not what anybody does to anybody else. And this particular individual (Pachulia) has a history with that kind of action.”

Popovich referred to, among other incidents, a heated exchange between David West and Pachulia last season, when West was with the Spurs and Pachulia with the Dallas Mavericks.

Popovich referred to the play, which happened with 7:53 left in the third quarter, as “crap,” implying it’s typical of Pachulia.

“And because he's got this history, it can't just be, ‘Oh, it was inadvertent,’ ” Popovich said. “He didn't have intent. Who gives a damn about what his intent was? You ever hear of manslaughter? You still go to jail, I think, when you're texting and you end up killing somebody, but you might not have intended to do that. All I care about is what I saw. All I care about is what happened and the history there exacerbates the whole situation and makes me very, very angry.”

Warriors acting coach Mike Brown, a close friend of and former assistant to Popovich, said the Spurs coach was speaking in support of his players. Brown also referenced another incident that, for his part, exonerates Pachulia from any intent to injure.

“Obviously, there was a chain of events that happened,” Brown said. “Right before that, Kawhi stepped on David Lee's foot and tweaked his ankle. Then, (the Pachulia-Leonard) play happened. Then at the 7:23 mark, a couple plays or a play later, Steph shot the ball and LaMarcus Aldridge went to contest, and he went underneath Steph, and Steph avoided landing on his ankle by falling to the ground.

“I even asked two of the three officials. I said, 'Hey, that's the same call that you just called on Zaza,' and both of them told me that the difference was that Kawhi landed on Zaza's foot. Steph avoided landing on LaMarcus's foot, and that's why they didn't call the foul or whatever they called on Zaza. So it's the same play.”

Pachulia made it clear neither his reputation nor the comments by Popovich will affect his approach to the game.

“I really feel bad for the guy,” Pachulia said. “I wish it didn't happen and it had a different result, basically.

“But it's a game and there are some things that you can't control. I have a lot of respect for Kawhi. I think he's one of the best players in this league. We wish him all the best to get healthy.

“But . . . this is the game of basketball. Lot of crazy stuff happens on the court, unfortunately. It's happened to me as well, and once you play this kind of physical game, intense game, things happen. My approach to this game for 14 years that I've been in the league is to play hard and give my 100%, whatever I have. So I don't agree with the calls that I'm a dirty player. I'm not a dirty player. I just love this game, and I play hard. It's how I was taught since day one, honestly. So that's what I've been doing. That's my last comment about it.”

 

After a hectic few days, Andrew Bogut fares well in reunion with Warriors

After a hectic few days, Andrew Bogut fares well in reunion with Warriors

Insofar as 14 months have passed since he last played in the NBA, Andrew Bogut’s second debut with the Warriors on Monday went about well as could be expected.

For an emergency starter whose head is spinning in multiple directions, it was solid.

“Andrew was great,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters in San Antonio. “It’s great to have him back. He’s a tremendous defensive player. He’s a great passer. He’s a lob threat. He’s going to help us.”

Bogut tried to help against the Spurs – producing  points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal in 19 minutes – but was unable to prevent a 111-105 loss to the Spurs at AT&T Center.

“Me personally, it was just good to be out there and trying to contribute,” he said. “But I would like to have left with a win.”

Bogut, 34, came out of retirement last week, signing for a second tour with the Warriors upon a March 3 completion of his season with the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League. The 7-foot center and his family arrived in the Bay Area over the weekend, giving him four days to find a house, take conditioning tests and prepare to play Thursday against Indiana at Oracle Arena.

But when DeMarcus Cousins sustained a mild injury to his right foot Saturday at Oklahoma City, the timeline moved up three days – to Monday, less than 24 hours after he arrived in San Antonio. Bogut barely knew where he was, much less fully prepared to start an NBA game.

“I felt all right,” Bogut said. “I was sucking wind a little bit in the first quarter, just from flying from Australia the last couple days. But once I got into a rhythm, I felt pretty good.

“I’m just figuring things out like where guys like the ball. That was something I’ve got to still figure out. I’m figuring out a few of our sets, which are new, but for the most part it’s about playing basketball.”

Bogut was signed mostly because he brings much-needed size, familiarity with the systems utilized by the Warriors – he was a member of the team in Kerr’s first two seasons as coach before being traded in 2016 – and his hoops IQ is a seamless fit.

It didn’t take long for Bogut to get his first hello by whistle, as fourth-year official Gediminas Petraitas assessed a foul for an illegal screen nine seconds after tipoff.

“Welcome to the league for sure,” Bogut said. “‘We know you set some hard screens, so we’re just going blow one early.’ That’s how it goes.”

The call “shocked” Kerr.

“It didn’t seem like much,” he said. “He just stood there. He didn’t stick his hip out. It was just a back screen, didn’t impact the play. And, bam, quick foul.”

There were a couple hiccups, as was expected, but Bogut never looked out of place among his new/old teammates. He was minus-2 for the game.

“Obviously, playing with Klay and Steph when I was here last time," Bogut said. "And now throw (Kevin Durant) in there and see how talented he is and how easy the game comes to him, it makes you a little bit jealous. Those guys are really talented.”

Bogut’s return to the Warriors came precisely two months after Cousins was activated. Both are former All-NBA centers. The Warriors won in Cousins’ debut, beating the Clippers, but fell short against the Spurs.

Better days are ahead, according to Bogut.

[WATCH: Steph beats first-quarter buzzer]

“When you get our offense free-flowing, there are so many weapons,” he said. “I can say tonight was a bad night for us, but you can see the potential of this lineup, especially once you throw DeMarcus out there and a few other guys. It’s pretty special.”

The Warriors should benefit from Bogut’s presence. If the first game is any indication, he’ll be a very good backup to Cousins, as dictated by matchups.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from Warriors' tough loss to Spurs

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from Warriors' tough loss to Spurs

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO — Following back-to-back solid performances against Houston and Oklahoma City, the Warriors couldn't find their shot in a 111-105 loss to the Spurs on Monday night. 

Despite a late run to get within four points with two minutes left, a late flurry from DeMar DeRozan sealed the win for San Antonio. 

The loss snaps a two-game Warriors winning streak and, with a road game against Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, makes the reality of a 2-2 trip all the more possible

Here are three takeaways from the game. 

No 'Splash' from the Brothers

In a game that begged for offense, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson had a hard time providing it. 

Curry finished with 25 points on 9-of-25 from the field, missing a number of shots that could have kept the Warriors in the game down the stretch.

[WATCH: Curry banks in buzzer-beater]

Meanwhile, Thompson, who came into Monday’s game rolling, made just five of his 18 shots on the night. 

Thompson had been averaging 30 points on 50 percent from the field over his last four games. A good shooting performance from Klay would have helped the Warriors' cause. 

Andrew Bogut's return

After being summoned due to DeMarcus Cousins' sore right ankle, Bogut started his second tour of duty in Golden State in an appropriate fashion, committing an offensive foul after setting an illegal screen to free up Curry. 

Following the foul, Bogut gave the Warriors solid play, finishing with seven points, seven rebounds and one steal in 19 minutes. 

The offense seemed to flow well when Bogut was on the floor, giving a glimpse of what the Warriors can expect if the veteran center can recapture his play from his previous tenure in the Bay Area. 

Warriors couldn't stop fouling

The Warriors needed to be disciplined, but they committed 20 fouls on the night, including a momentum-stopping foul from Kevin Durant on Marco Belinelli in the fourth quarter that led to a four-point play. 

For a team that's trying to turn the tide on a subpar second half of the season, unnecessary fouls aren't conducive to that goal.