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Zaza Pachulia: Flagrant foul was ‘payback’ for Russell Westbrook’s elbow

Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson play like stars for the Warriors. Fifth starter Zaza Pachulia does the rest.

Against the Thunder a couple weeks ago, that meant decking Russell Westbrook and standing over the Oklahoma City guard who has repeatedly intensified a feud with Durant.

Except maybe that wasn’t Pachulia’s motivation?

Pachulia, as transcribed by Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I didn’t mention where everything started, and maybe that’s my fault not to make it clear that I didn’t start that conversation or incident on the court,” Pachulia said on KNBR’s “Murph & Mac.” “He elbowed me right (before the) previous play before I gave him a hard foul. He elbowed me. He lost the ball and threw the elbow in my face. We went on the fast break, Steph (Curry) had the layup and here they come and that’s when I took the hard foul.

“So it was kind of payback from my side. Like I said, a lot of people didn’t know that. I didn’t talk about it. I think it’s fair for me to say now.”

Would Pachulia have forgiven the elbow – which can be seen above – if it didn’t come from a player who was beefing with one of Pachulia’s teammates? I suspect Pachulia might have, but nobody – including him – can ever know for certain. For what it’s worth, Pachulia has taken grievances into his own hands against other players, too.

Either way, Pachulia has put himself in Westbrook’s crosshairs. I doubt any explanation will change that.