Teammates Patrick Beverley, James Harden, and Eric Gordon went with Ariza. Mejri did not leave the locker room, and the Rockets players left the zone before there was a showdown. Dallas cops were available to guarantee the situation didn’t raise.
The game included various showdowns, including eight specialized fouls and Ariza’s ejection.
A portion of the clashes: Harden disagreed with an Andrew Bogut screen; Dirk Nowitzki and Ryan Anderson got physical with each other; Justin Anderson and Nene occupied with an arm-catching match, and Rick Carlisle had words with Ariza.
“I don’t know what they were on tonight,” Harden said after the game, per Watkins. “That other team was tripping tonight. They were disrespectful, were unprofessional players and coaches. I don’t know what their problem was, 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 feud between Ariza and Mejri took center stage, with a source telling Watkins the Dallas center “made a derogatory comment to Ariza about Ariza’s wife and children between the third and fourth quarters.” However, Mejri “unequivocally denied to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon” that he said anything in regards to Ariza’s family.
Ariza’s reaction to Mejri was abnormal, as Watkins noted:
I’ll say this. Ariza is one of the more professional players in the league. To set him off like this means something bad was said.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) December 28, 2016
Beverley, who didn’t play in the game, annoyed Carlisle amid the mentor’s postgame public interview.
“Don’t be mad at us, Coach,” Beverley yelled at Carlisle, though the coach didn’t respond. “Way to be an icon, Coach. Have a nice season, Coach.”
Beverley likewise had words for the Mavericks on Twitter after the challenge:
What we experienced today as a team. Was the upmost disrespect. And total disrespect to Us and the GAME OF BASKETBALL…Still got the W tho
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) December 28, 2016
“We’re still out trying to win. However, it goes on,” Gordon added. “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.”
The two teams will not play other again amid the normal season. Houston (24-9) swept the season series 4-0 versus Dallas (9-23).