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NBA notes: Kawhi Leonard ruled out for Game 2

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ruled Kawhi Leonard out for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals because of a sprained left ankle caused by what Popovich described as a “dangerous” and “unsportsmanlike” closeout by the Golden State Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia.

Leonard had an MRI exam Monday and Popovich had no timetable on when he’d be able to return. “We’ll see what the MRI says, but obviously he won’t play tomorrow,” Popovich said.

Leonard left Game 1 on Sunday after re-injuring his tender left ankle in the third quarter when Pachulia’s foot slid under Leonard’s following a jumper by the All-Star forward. The play happened in front of the Spurs bench and Popovich was angry at the time and even more upset a day after San Antonio’s 113-111 loss to the Warriors at Oakland.

“A two-step, lead-with-your-foot closeout is not appropriate,” he said. “It’s dangerous, it’s unsportsmanlike. It’s just not what anybody does to anybody else. And this particular individual has a history with that kind of action.”

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Popovich pointed to a history of borderline plays by Pachulia during his time with the Dallas Mavericks against the Spurs, including a flagrant foul against Patty Mills, a play where he locked arms with Mills in a way that “could have broken his arm,” according to Popovich, and run-ins with David West, who now plays for the Warriors.

Pachulia said he simply challenged the shot like he was taught and felt bad that the play ended with Leonard getting hurt.

“This is the game of basketball, a lot of crazy stuff happens on the court, unfortunately,” he said. “It happened to me as well. When you play this kind of physical game, intense game, things happen. My approach to this game for the 14 years I’ve been in this league is to play hard and give 100% of whatever I have. 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’m playing hard. That’s how I was taught since Day 1, honestly.”

But Popovich wasn’t buying any defense from Pachulia about lack of intent.

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“Because he has this history, it can’t just be, ‘Oh, it’s inadvertent. He didn’t have intent,’” he said. “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.”

Pelicans sticking with GM, coach

New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson and executive vice president Mickey Loomis said they have decided to retain general manager Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry heading into the 2017-18 season.

In a written statement issued by the Pelicans, Loomis called the decision to stick with Demps and Gentry “the best course of action as we move forward” and said it came after a “thorough review.”

Demps hired Gentry two seasons ago, and the Pelicans have since gone 64-100 since, missing the playoffs both seasons. However, the club has struggled to maintain a stable lineup, largely because of injuries.

Cavaliers to add Goodyear logo

The Cleveland Cavaliers are teaming up with another Akron icon.

Linked by geography and superstar LeBron James, the defending NBA champions announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Goodyear.

The Cavaliers will wear the tire giant’s winged-foot logo on the front of their jerseys starting next season.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal, which includes advertising, jersey and merchandise sales, could be worth $10 million annually for the team.

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Last year, the league approved teams signing companies to place logos on the upper left portion of their jerseys. Philadelphia, Boston, Sacramento, Utah and Brooklyn all have similar corporate partnerships.


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