DALLAS -- The Houston Rockets have a bunch of players who grew up playing hard, physical basketball. Patrick Beverley is from Chicago. James Harden and Trevor Ariza from Los Angeles. Ryan Anderson from Sacramento, California.
"I don't know what they were on tonight," Harden said. "That other team was tripping tonight. They were disrespectful, were unprofessional players and coaches. I don't know what was their problem, but I think that got us going. They wanted to throw a little cheap shot and just woke us up a little bit, and it was over from there."
The night started when Andrew Bogut's shoulder ran into the face of Harden, knocking him to the floor. After a review, a flagrant foul was called. Bogut was surprised by the call and said he would appeal the decision.
Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks' coach, exchanged words with Ariza. It also forced the referees to give Carlisle a technical, which he applauded saying, "good call, good call."
Things got really out of hand between the third and fourth quarters when according to a source, Salah Mejri made a derogatory comment about Ariza's family. Ariza and Mejri had words and the referees ejected Ariza.
"We're still out trying to win, however it goes on," Eric Gordon said. "They did too much talking on the other team, way too much talking and when the game is already won, the only way they can try to get into the game is try to get the refs involved to try to create chaos. It's good we got a good win and moved on."
At one point in the second half, Anderson was knocked in the back of the head by Dwight Powell on the way to the basket. Anderson was down for several moments, holding the back of his head. He later said he felt his neck pop and, quite frankly, it worried him. Anderson had neck surgery several years ago while with New Orleans, forcing him to miss 60 games. So, after any such physical contact to his head/neck area, he checks himself.
"It was more of a shock kind of hit," Anderson said, "when you feel pops going down your neck."
After a cooling-off period, if there was such a thing for the Rockets, they retaliated -- or tried to. Beverley, who didn't play, sat on a cart waiting to leave when he noticed Carlisle leave his postgame news conference.
Beverley let him have it and to Carlisle's credit, he ignored what was said.
"Don't be mad at us, coach!" Beverley yelled. "Way to be an icon, coach! Have a nice season, coach!"
As Beverley was yelling at Carlisle, Ariza was next to the Mavericks' locker room waiting for Mejri. Blocking his path were three Dallas police officers, two Rockets security guards and eventually numerous teammates.
Ariza was calmed but still ended up leaving the building fuming.
The Rockets can only take so much.
These teams won't meet anymore this season, thank goodness, given how the Mavs were swept in four games, but you have to wonder about next season. Players have long memories.
"I just be wanting to do my job and play and smile," said Harden, who led everybody with 34 points and 11 assists. "But when you disrespect [us] and you taking shots and doing other things other than playing basketball, then we have to take it somewhere else."
Maybe things were summed up best when a former player told ESPN: "Where I'm from, sometimes if you can't win the game, you try to win the fight."