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Rockets players tried to confront Mavericks outside locker room

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Tuesday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks took their rivalry to a different place. While the Rockets beat the Mavericks, 123-107, the story of the night was the eight technical fouls, two flagrant fouls, and the ejection that sent Trevor Ariza to the locker room.

That’s where Ariza reportedly waited for Dallas center Salah Mejri alongside teammates Patrick Beverley, James Harden, and Eric Gordon.

The incident between Ariza and Mejri reportedly stems from comments that spurred Ariza’s ejection between the third and fourth quarters.

Both ESPN and SB Nation have reported that Mejri said something about Ariza’s wife and children, apparently triggering the incident.

Ariza then decided to wait for Mejri outside the Dallas locker room with his teammates, with ESPN reporting that Mavericks PG Deron Williams even came out to meet them and try to defuse the situation.

Ariza, Harden, Beverley, and Gordon all left without incident and without confronting Mejri.

Mejri, by the way, denies having said anything to Ariza, instead saying it was the Rockets swingman instigating.

“He was swearing and bulls—. Ask him. He’s out there. Ask him,” Mejri said to media after the game.

Meanwhile, there was five technical fouls from the Rockets and three from the Mavericks over the course of the game, a flagrant foul on Dwight Powell, and a flagrant on Andrew Bogut after a sliding down screen sent his shoulder into Harden’s face.

The game was tensed with conflict, including Patrick Beverley sarcastically chiding Dallas coach Rick Carlisle after the final horn, “Don’t be mad at us coach! Way to be an icon coach! Have a nice season coach!”

After the game, Harden was notably upset with the Mavericks.

Via ESPN:

“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.”

Unfortunately, these two teams don’t meet again this season. Houston won all four prior contests between the two this year.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelicans Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.