DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo

New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, front, and guard Rajon Rondo sit on the bench after falling behind the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ORG XMIT: CODZ102

David Zalubowski

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins says he was protecting a rebound the way all big men are taught when he was ejected for a flagrant foul during a game against Oklahoma City.

Cousins was called for a flagrant-two foul when he raised his right elbow near Thunder guard Russell Westbrook's head during the third quarter of the Pelicans' 114-107 victory Monday night.

Cousins, who did not speak about the play until after Tuesday's practice, says Westbrook "did a good job of selling" the foul in the way he fell to the floor.

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Cousins says he has been instructed since youth basketball that front-court players should keep their elbows "high and out" to protect rebounds.

Cousins adds that he's not sure what he can do differently going forward other than sending Christmas cards to NBA officials and league headquarters.