Beef! We’ve got beef! Fire up the grill and lay out your finest red checkered tablecloth, because the Rockets and the Mavericks engaged in some tender, juicy, USDA prime, high-marbled beef.
The Rockets won 123-107 in Dallas last night, but that’s entirely peripheral to the evening. As Wesley Matthews said, “I don’t know what that was. It wasn’t even basketball.”
An increasingly chippy game racked up eight technical fouls, two flagrant fouls, and a whole bunch of angry Rockets players waiting outside the Mavs’ locker room to confront Dallas center Salah Mejri, who they accused of saying something uncouth about Trevor Ariza’s family.
“I don’t know what they were on tonight,” James Harden said. “That other team was tripping tonight. They were disrespectful, were unprofessional players and coaches. I don’t know what was their problem.”
The actual in-game stuff was relatively tame compared to the aftermath. Andrew Bogut was whistled for a flagrant 1 for putting his shoulder into Harden on a screen:
There were multiple instances of jawing and shoving, and Trevor Ariza had to be escorted off the court after his second tech:
It was in the bowels of the arena that the real action went down.
According to a source, Mejri made a derogatory comment to Ariza about Ariza’s wife and children between the third and fourth quarters.
Ariza became so upset that he exchanged words with Mejri, which prompted the referees to give Ariza a technical, his second of the game, leading to an ejection.
After the game, Ariza dressed and walked toward the Dallas locker room, accompanied by two security guards. As Ariza and several Houston teammates — including Patrick Beverley, James Harden, and Eric Gordon — waited for Mejri, Dallas police officers already outside the locker room as part of their regular detail monitored the situation to make sure it did not escalate.
(The Star-Telegram reported that Mejri’s comments were allegedly about Ariza’s mother, not his wife and kids. Mejri denied he said anything at all untoward.)
At one point, Bogut had to talk Mejri out of leaving the locker room to confront Ariza. Mejri professed ignorance as to why Ariza was so upset. “He was swearing and bullshit,” Mejri said. “Ask him. He’s out there. Ask him.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Beverley crossed paths with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, and had some things to say.
“Don’t be mad at us coach,” Beverley yelled at Carlisle, who didn’t respond to Beverley. “Way to be an icon coach. Have a nice season, coach.”
All in all, a very weird beef with no obvious cause. Frustration might not be a bad guess, though—the Rockets finished off their four-game season sweep of the Mavericks, their first since 1997-98. We won’t get a rematch for a while, either. The Mavs are sitting dead last in the West.