The Golden State Warriors big man took a great deal of heat on social media for injuring Kawhi Leonard during the third quarter of Game 1 on Sunday afternoon. Whether intentionally or otherwise, Pachulia's left foot got well underneath Leonard while he was in the air, doing more harm to the All-Star's already sore left ankle and forcing him from the game.
Pachulia takes great offense to fans who think he did it on purpose.
"That's really stupid," he said following Golden State's 113-111 victory, according to Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver. "... I had to challenge the shot, especially (because) it was a hand-off situation. I saw my teammate was behind the screen so I had to challenge the shot. That's what I did. I turned around for the rebound and that was it."
Pachulia said he didn't see the injury: "I turned around and there was a call. I didn't notice he was down until I turned back, actually. I didn't see what happened there."
He added that he hopes Leonard isn't seriously hurt.
"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 it to anybody, even though we are facing against them," Pachulia said. "I'm pretty sure we are capable of beating anybody healthy. I'm not standing for it. I wish nothing serious for him, because we are colleagues at the end of the day."
Leonard had 26 points in just 23 minutes before being forced from the game. Golden State scored 18 straight points shortly thereafter.