DALLAS — Feeling disrespected after flagrant and technical fouls, Trevor Ariza and other Rockets players waited outside the Mavericks locker room after Houston beat Dallas 123-107 on Tuesday before eventually leaving the arena without an incident. Ariza wanted to confront Salah Mejri, who was held back from leaving the locker room by Mavericks employees and players, ultimately leaving in a different direction.
Mejri had called out Ariza’s wife and children, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen — something that Mejri denied happened to ESPN. In a video of Ariza leaving the court after being ejected following his second technical foul, it appears he heard Mejri refer to his wife using a derogatory term.
Ariza left the locker room with two security guards, ESPN’s Calvin Watkins reports. He waited outside the exit to the Mavericks locker room, and a few other Rockets joined him, including Patrick Beverley and James Harden. A few Mavericks, including Wesley Matthews and Justin Anderson, talked with them while they waited, and the Houston players eventually boarded the team bus.
While Mejri dressed in the locker room, Matthews advised him several times not to talk to an ESPN reporter. Mejri was stopped from leaving the locker room by at least one security guard and several team employees.
Beverley, professional instigator, yelled at Rick Carlisle from down the hall as he left his postgame press conference.
“Don't be mad at us, brother!” Beverley yelled in a scene witnessed by SB Nation. “Way to be an icon, brother! Have a nice season, brother!"
Carlisle did not acknowledge him. Beverley tweeted this immediately after the game.
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
The Mavericks’ Andrew Bogut was called for a flagrant one on Harden halfway through the second quarter. Dwight Powell was also called for a flagrant one on Ryan Anderson with 5:13 left in the third quarter, with Houston up by 22 points. The referees also called eight technical fouls, ejecting Ariza at the start of the fourth quarter after whistling him for a technical. Carlisle had received a technical after exchanging words with Ariza earlier in the day.
Harden expressed displeasure at the Mavericks to the media after the game.
“I don't know what they was on tonight,” Harden said. “That other team was trippin' tonight, just disrespectful, 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."
Harden continued: “Tough season or not, you don’t handle things that way. You don’t get flagrant fouls. That’s not professional. You don’t play basketball like that. You’re disrespecting the game of basketball. We’re going to leave it at that.”
On Wednesday, Mejri took to Twitter to deny insulting anyone’s family members.
There is always 2 sides to every story.I would never insult an opponent's family regardless of how much a player insulted me repeatedly pic.twitter.com/Gi8b9F8bzD— Salah Mejri (@50Mejri) December 28, 2016
Last night was a physical,intense game.We r professional athletes & role models to young basketball players.Im commited to mutual respect— Salah Mejri (@50Mejri) December 28, 2016
I am committed to have mutual respect to every player on the court. Let's play BASKETBALL. Happy holidays everyone!! pic.twitter.com/LxZUp03x5m— Salah Mejri (@50Mejri) December 28, 2016
Tuesday’s game completes the season series between the Mavericks and the Rockets. Houston swept it, winning all four games.