Warriors Zaza Pachulia fined for left hook to face of Heat’s Luke Babbitt

Miami's Luke Babbitt shooting a free throw Monday after Golden State's Zaza Pachulia was assessed wit a Flagrant 1 foul and then fined by the NBA for the play. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Miami’s Luke Babbitt shooting a free throw Monday after Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia was assessed with a Flagrant 1 foul and then fined by the NBA for the play. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – Warriors center Zaza Pachulia has been fined $15,000 for striking Heat forward Luke Babbitt in the face during the Heat’s 105-102 victory on Monday.

The incident occurred with 6:51 remaining in the fourth quarter  (click here to watch). Hassan Whiteside rebounded a missed free throw by Golden State’s Draymond Green and as Goran Dragic started taking the ball down the court Pachulia smacked Babbitt with his left hand after Babbitt leaned into Pachulia with his right shoulder.

Babbitt was assessed a technical foul and Pachulia a Flagrant 1 foul.

Stephen Curry missed the technical while Babbitt made his free throw giving Miami a nine-point lead. The Heat would eventually push the lead to 10 points before the Warriors rallied to tie the scored on a Kevin Durant dunk with 11.7 seconds to play.

Dion Waiters then hit a game-winning, three-pointer with 0.6 to play.

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Babbitt played a key role in the Heat’s upset, scoring 11 points and making 3-of-4 three-pointers. It was just his fifth double-digit scoring game of the year.

Although Babbitt is averaging just 4.6 points, he has started 23 games, the fourth most on the team.

“He’s been earning more opportunities from other things,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think everybody has been watching how many times the ball goes in and particularly from the three-point line. But what he gives us is a bigger 6-9 defender who plays to our system so he can play either wing or a (power forward) and he’s been able to understand and develop in our system, develop some discipline within that system and he brings a level of toughness and size so we can play a little bit bigger.

“Offensively he’s getting more comfortable. He’s understanding what we need from him, more catch-and-shoot, more spacing for our attackers.”

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