Zaza Pachulia Says Russell Westbrook Calling Him a Dirty Player Is 'Childish'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2018

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 18:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Zaza Pachulia #27 and Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 18, 2017 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Zaza Pachulia denied Russell Westbrook's claim that the center intentionally fell on him in an effort to injure him during Golden State's 112-80 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday and called the accusations "childish."

"I don't want to go back and forth on those kind of things," Pachulia said, per Mark Medina of the Mercury News. "That's not the case."

After the game, Westbrook suggested that Pachulia fell over him on purpose after Westbrook missed a basket in the third quarter and fell to the floor alongside Warriors guard Nick Young.

"Nobody touched me. He fell over my leg," Westbrook noted. "He tried to hurt me. But hey, that's how it goes."

Westbrook also said he thought Pachulia was a dirty player, and Paul George wasn't willing to pardon him, either.

"You know Zaza. You know his history," he noted, per Medina. "You know nobody pushed him. He aimed where he was going to fall. That's Zaza making a Zaza play. He's on the end of hurting a lot of guys."

Even Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving weighed in, commenting on an Instagram post (h/t Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript):

Fred Katz @FredKatz

Kyrie Irving has thoughts on Pachulia falling on Westbrook’s leg: “that s*** is ridiculous” https://t.co/fPJayhbzT4

Pachulia most infamously crowded Kawhi Leonard during a jump shot in last season's Western Conference Finals, causing the San Antonio Spurs forward to land on Pachulia's foot and miss the remainder of the series.

San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich sounded off on Pachulia after that incident, calling it a "totally unnatural closeout that the league has outlawed years ago," per NBC Sports Bay Area.

Indeed, Pachulia has earned the reputation of being a dirty player, whether he agrees with that designation or not. But Dieter Kurtenbach of the Mercury News didn't believe the fall was intentional after reviewing the film.

He wrote: "The replay shows that as Westbrook and Young went to the ground, Young's right foot hooks around the back of Pachulia's left knee. Subsequently, Young's left foot hits into Pachulia's left foot. It's clear: The foot-to-knee pulled Pachulia down, while the foot-to-foot made him awkwardly fall."

What is just as clear is that Pachulia, based on his reputation, probably won't be given the benefit of the doubt around the NBA. It's less clear how the NBA league office will rule on the incident.


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