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Zaza Pachulia makes fittingly understated return to Warriors starting lineup

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Zaza Pachulia’s performance typically doesn’t jump out at you, but the Golden State Warriors appreciate him for his subtle contributions. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND — A look at the box score doesn’t tell the full story of Zaza Pachulia’s return to the Golden State Warriors’ lineup on Wednesday after more than three weeks out.

The Georgian center delivered a characteristic — if unspectacular stat line — scoring five points dishing two assists and corralling a lone rebound in 14 minutes.

What goes unlisted are all those impeccable screens.

“I thought he was great,” head coach Steve Kerr said after the 126-101 win. “He did exactly what Zaza always does. He sets the best screens on the team. He’s physical. He sets a tone in the lane — just with his ability to box out and put a body on people. That’s what he does for us.”

Pachulia chuckled when told Kerr called him the club’s premier screen setter.

Just like Jordan Bell, his rookie understudy, who knows it’s his job to pass the ball to the Splash Brothers and Kevin Durant, Pachulia recognizes how he fits into the Golden State offensive machine.

“It’s part of the game. It’s a huge part — especially having this many shooters and this many great shooters,” Pachulia said. “… It’s something that doesn’t necessarily get paid attention to by fans and the media.”

“I wouldn’t pay attention to it either if I wasn’t a player who understands little things that make a pretty big difference,” Pachulia added. “Obviously, I’m a big guy. This is what I was taught when I was young.”

Pachulia wouldn’t mind if more attention was paid to his subtle yet crucial contributions to the offense.

“You don’t see it in the box score,” Pachulia said. “But I know our team is charting it. That’s for sure. Again, it’s a huge part [of the game] that we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to, but I think we should start talking about it more often.”

Before the win, Kerr made it clear where Pachulia stands in the pecking order after drawing a DNP on Christmas Day against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Zaza’s our starter,” Kerr said. “And he will be starting, I would say, the vast majority of games.”

Against the Jazz, Pachulia’s night was over before the Warriors roared out to another explosive third quarter. As Pachulia headed to the bench for good with 4:43 to go in the quarter, the Warriors were up by seven. The lead would balloon to 21 by the end of the period. Draymond Green nearly recorded another triple double (14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) and Jordan Bell grabbed 13 rebounds and accounted for seven assists.

“The beauty of this team is everybody brings something different to the table and we share it, basically, throughout the 48 minutes,” Pachulia said. “There are so many different types of lineups and personalities.”

kbuscheck@sfexaminer.com

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