DALLAS (AP) — James Harden was called for one of the eight technicals in a game that turned tense when Dallas center Andrew Bogut received a flagrant foul on a hard screen that staggered Houston's star guard.
Despite 34 points and an easy 123-107 victory that completed a four-game season sweep of the last-place Mavericks on Tuesday night, Harden wasn't happy.
"That other team was trippin' tonight, just disrespectful, unprofessional, players and coaches," Harden said. "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."
Bogut was equally frustrated in his return after missing 11 games with a right knee injury. The call came in the second quarter, near the end of a 16-0 Houston run that broke a 37-all tie. Harden doubled over after running head-first into the 7-foot, 260-pound Bogut's shoulder.
"If you watch the replay, yeah, he made no effort to run around my screen," said Bogut, who had a couple of sharp verbal exchanges with Harden. "Yeah, it was a hard screen and I set hard screens. But to get a flagrant for it is kind of head-scratching.
"You admire the effort the league's putting in in Secaucus (New Jersey) with that beautiful facility where they watch replays and watch TV and have leather chairs and all that kind of stuff. But you scratch your head at a lot of these things and it becomes very, very frustrating."
Trevor Ariza was ejected after his second technical during the break after the third quarter, when five technicals were called. After the game, he was waiting outside the Dallas locker room for Mavericks center Salah Mejri.
Security had to make sure the pair didn't interact after an exchange during the game that led to Ariza's first technical. Houston was called for five and Dallas three.
"It wasn't even basketball," Dallas guard Wesley Matthews said. "Tempers, two in-state teams, we play each other four times, we've had battles in the past, so it is what it is. But we've got to be better than that. That was an opportunity for us to channel it into basketball and we didn't do that."
Harden had 24 points at halftime and finished with 11 assists without playing in the fourth quarter. The Rockets improved to 13-2 in December.
With two games left in the month, Houston can tie the franchise record of 15 wins from November 1996.
Harrison Barnes scored 21 for the last-place Mavericks, who lost their second straight following their first two-game winning streak of the season.
There were also two flagrant fouls, both against Dallas.
Most of the technicals came during dead-ball situations, with players and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle complaining to officials. Carlisle mockingly clapped at the refs, saying "good call," after he was whistled for one.
"They tried to defend by being real physical and thinking that's the way to do it," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I don't really want to get into it just because it doesn't serve any purpose. We needed the win. We came out and we took care of business."
Rockets: G Patrick Beverley sat out with a left quadriceps contusion. It's not expected to be a long-term injury. ... Sam Dekker had a game-high 11 rebounds. ... The Rockets are 7-0 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.
Mavericks: G Pierre Jackson was signed off the Mavericks' NBA Development League team, and G Jonathan Gibson was waived. Jackson, a former Baylor guard who was drafted in 2013, made his NBA debut in the fourth quarter and scored seven points. ... Matthews had 19 points.
BESIDES THE TECHS
There were a couple of face-to-face confrontations, the first ending in double technicals in the second quarter for Dallas' Justin Anderson and Nene. Later in the quarter, Houston's Ryan Anderson went nose-to-nose with Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki without a technical being called.
The Mavericks had their projected starting five for just the fourth time, and first since a 128-90 loss at Cleveland on Nov. 25. The lineup is winless. Bogut and Nowitzki, in his third game back from his latest absence for a sore right Achilles tendon, stayed in the locker room at halftime. Bogut went scoreless with six rebounds in 10 minutes, and Nowitzki scored seven points.
Rockets: Start a four-game homestand against the Clippers on Friday. It matches their longest of the season.
Mavericks: After a night off, Dallas continues stretch of four games in five nights with back-to-back at Lakers (Thursday) and Golden State (Friday).