Russell Westbrook said his scuffle with Steph Curry during the Oklahoma City Thunder's defeat to the Golden State Warriors was about protecting his team-mates.
Emotions have run high between the two teams since the injured Kevin Durant's decision to leave the Thunder for the Warriors in the off-season.
Durant was courtside for Monday's contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Warriors eased to a 111-95 victory, Curry and Klay Thompson combining for 57 points.
With seconds remaining in the second quarter, Curry reacted angrily after being pushed by Semaj Christon as they jostled for position at a jump ball.
Westbrook stepped in, leading to a shoving match between the two star point guards, with the Thunder's Taj Gibson and the Warriors' Draymond Green caught up in the subsequent scrum.
Double technical fouls handed out to Curry and Christon and Green and Westbrook.
"I was just trying to get in between Russ and (Christon)," Curry told reporters. "And I felt him push me. I kind of let that first one go, then as I kept going there was another little push. And at that point, I just wanted to hold my position."
Westbrook's view of the situation was predictably different.
"Protecting my team-mates, that's what's going through my mind," Westbrook said. "I think Curry tried to get into it with Semaj, tried to push him, and I stepped right in between.
"That's it. Once I see something going down with my team-mates, I'm hopping in."
Curry had the final say before half-time, though, collecting Thompson's pass from the jump ball and nailing a three-pointer before the buzzer and then sprinting down the tunnel.
"That was dope," Green said of Curry's buzzer-beating three. "A heads-up play by Klay, to get the pass out to Steph, and a great shot."