Durant defends Pachulia as clumsy, but not dirty

NBA.com Global on Feb 27, 2018 07:52 AM
Durant defends Pachulia as clumsy, but not dirty
FILE - SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 6: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the game against the Utah Jazz during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2017 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

A day after reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook accused Warriors center Zaza Pachulia of intentionally trying to hurt him in the Warriors' recent 112-80 victory over the Thunder, Kevin Durant defended his teammate as "clumsy" rather than dirty.

"I don’t think Zaza is trying to hurt anybody,” Durant said after practice on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), as reported by the Mercury News. “He is clumsy, don’t get me wrong. A lot of big guys are. But I watched the tape. I don’t think he’s trying to hurt him at all. It was an unfortunate play. And I’m glad Russ didn’t get hurt from that."

The incident in question took place in the third quarter of Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) clash, when Pachulia toppled onto Westbrook's legs as they and Warriors guard Nick Young battled for a rebound.

"He fell over my leg,” Westbrook said after the game. "He tried to hurt me."

Pachulia faced similar accusations during last season's playoffs, when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ripped the 15-year veteran after an incident in which Kawhi Leonard suffered a series-ending sprained ankle as Pachulia challenged his shot. The Warriors went on to sweep the Spurs en route to their second championship in three years.

Despite that history, Durant was more than willing to give Pachulia the benefit of the doubt.

“I don’t think Zaza is trying to hurt anybody,” Durant said. “He loves the game too much and respects the game too much. But obviously we need something to talk about.”

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