Kevin Durant defends Zaza Pachulia against accusations of being a dirty player

NEW YORK — It didn’t look like a big deal during the game on Saturday, but Zaza Pachulia falling in a heap and bringing Russell Westbrook with him has created another round of dirty-player accusations for the Golden State Warriors big man.

When Westbrook was asked by Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game and the SF Examiner if he thought Pachulia intentionally tried to hurt him, Westbrook got defensive and stated it was obviously an attempt to hurt him.

On Sunday, Kevin Durant said he thought his former teammate was missing a key factor: Nick Young’s leg tripping Pachulia, bringing him to the floor.

“I don’t think Zaza was trying to hurt anybody,” Durant said. “He is clumsy — don’t get me wrong — like a lot of big guys are. But I watched the tape. I seen Nick’s foot get caught up with Zaza’s leg and it might of tripped him up a bit. I don’t think he was trying to hurt Russ. But it did look to the fans’ view, I’m sure to them, it looked kinda like a weird play. I slowed it down and I seen some clips and pictures everywhere that Nick’s leg got caught up in Zaza’s leg. I don’t think he was trying to hurt him at all. It was an unfortunate play and I’m glad Russ didn’t get hurt.”

This is a classic “is it dirty” play that comes up in the NBA more than once a year. It’s impossible to know Pachulia’s true intentions in that brief moment. And it doesn’t look good. But is it dirty and does it matter?

The discussion in the NBA — a pro league that thrives because of an active fanbase on Twitter — will rage on and everyone will take their own sides in the battle.

Kyrie Irving took his stance and it wasn’t favorable to Pachulia.

“The league has to take a look at this man, this s–t is ridiculous,” Irving commented on a video of the play.

So take a look. Was it dirty?

Jacob C. Palmer

Jacob C. Palmer is the sports editor of the San Francisco Examiner. Reach him at (415) 359-2729 and Follow him on Twitter: @jacobc_palmer.

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