Warriors center Zaza Pachulia responded to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s scathing criticism, pushing back against the narrative that he plays a “dangerous” game with “unsportsmanlike” conduct.

Kawhi Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot, knocking him out of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals (and quite possibly Game 2 as well.)

The big fella said he was sorry to see Kawhi go down.

Per ESPN:

“My approach to this game for 14 years that I’ve been in the league is to play hard and [give] 100 percent of whatever I have,” Pachulia said in response to Popovich on Monday after practice. “So, I don’t agree with the calls that I’m a dirty player. I’m not a dirty player. I love this game and I’m playing hard. That’s what I was taught since day one.”

 

The NBA said Monday that Pachulia will not face any discipline and that the play will stand as called.

 

Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said Popovich is just protecting his guys. He also added that Pachulia’s incident wasn’t the only questionable play, and another one involved the back-to-back MVP.

 

“Steph [Curry] shot the ball and LaMarcus Aldridge went to contest and he went up underneath Steph and Steph avoided landing on his ankle by falling to the ground,” Brown said. “And I even asked two of the three officials, I said ‘Hey, that’s the same call you just called on Zaza’ and both of them told me the difference was Kawhi landed on Zaza’s foot. Steph avoided landing on LaMarcus’ foot and that’s why they didn’t call a foul. It’s the same play. Zaza is not a dirty player. LaMarcus is not a dirty player. It’s a tough basketball play. You hate to see anybody get injured on a situation like that. But you go back and watch the film, they’re both identical.”

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Kawhi Leonard Says Zaza Pachulia Wasn’t Making A Dirty Play