Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Dec. 28): Things get chippy in Rockets-Mavs matchup

Rockets wrestle win over Mavs | Techs piling up for Draymond Green | Durant no fan of L2M | Drummond turned down Barry offer

No. 1: Rockets wrestle win over Mavericks — Who says nobody cares about regular season NBA games? Last night’s Mavericks-Rockets tilt turned physical quick, after a hard foul by Andrew Bogut and words apparently said by Mavs reserve Salah Mejri. As Dwain Price writes, it was downhill from there…

Nobody swung any fists, but the disjointed game included eight technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and a whole lot of cussing along with chippy and aggressive play. The Rockets wound up winning 123-107 and afterward a slew of Houston players – led by angry forward Trevor Ariza – were outside the Mavs’ locker room waiting to get their hands on Mavs second-year center Salah Mejri.

Apparently, Ariza felt Mejri said some choice words about his mother in the heat of the battle and Ariza wanted to settle the score. Mavs guards Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams attempted to settle down Ariza, and Mavs security eventually got things under control, leaving the Rockets off to their team bus without incident.

Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, who didn’t play because of an injury, was so animated afterward that he was constantly yelling at Mavs coach Rick Carlisle as he headed to the locker room. Beverley then went to Twitter to voice his displeasure:

“What we experienced today as a team was the upmost [sic] disrespect. And total disrespect to us and the GAME OF BASKETBALL,” he tweeted.

Another part of this near melee started when Mavs center Andrew Bogut was whistled for a flagrant foul in the second quarter when he set a hard screen on James Harden. But Bogut said the refereeing crew of Tony Brothers, Tony Brown and Leon Wood gave him no explanation of what he did wrong.

“I have to go appeal it through my agent and through the GM here and try to get my money back,” Bogut said. “If you watch the replay, yeah, he made no effort to run around my screen, so obviously I turned to protect myself and hit him and he went face-first into my shoulder.

“Yeah, it was a hard screen and I set hard screens, but to get a flagrant for it is kind of head-scratching when I felt like Justin Anderson had his wrist in a ju-jitsu hold four plays later and that was just brushed off like a regular foul. You admire the effort the league’s putting in Seacaucus (N.J.) 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.”

Bogut also was very stern in talking to Mejri after the game in the locker room because Mejri apparently wanted to go and confront Ariza.

Indeed, it was a very frustrating night for the Mavs, who are 9-23 and have lost 13 games this season by 10 or more points. Some of that frustration may have played out in the Mavs’ performance on Tuesday.

Justin Anderson, Mejri and Carlisle all received technical fouls, and Dwight Powell and Bogut each were assessed a flagrant fouls.

On the flip side, Rockets players James Harden, Montrezl Harrell and Nene each were charged with technicals, and Ariza was ejected between the third and fourth quarters after he received his second technical.

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No. 2: Draymond Green not changing approach — Warriors big man Draymond Green ran into trouble late last season when his technical foul count rose high enough to trigger a suspension during the NBA Finals. Don’t look now, but even as Green is on pace to rack up double-digits in technical fouls, he says he won’t change his approach, writes Anthony Slater…

He didn’t say anything to the referee. But his displeasure was obvious. And that apparently was enough to earn him a technical foul. It was Green’s team-leading seventh technical of the season. Players get an automatic one-game suspension for a 16th technical and a one-game suspension for every two technicals after that.

So as Green approaches that threshold, will he watch himself around referees?

“I don’t know what else I can watch,” Green said. “I don’t really talk to them much anymore. So no. I don’t know what else to watch at this point. Just continue to be me. If I get the tech, so be it. Continue to be me.”

Three of Green’s seven technicals this season have been celebratory. He got one for screaming in LaMarcus Aldridge’s direction after a dunk in the season opener, one after boisterously celebrating a Kevin Durant block of a Russell Westbrook shot and one against the Jazz last week for hanging on the rim too long after a dunk.

The last one is why Green seemed so furious after LeBron James wasn’t called for an even longer, more egregious rim hang after a late dunk on Sunday. The policing can be inconsistent.

“I don’t really have any answers for you,” Green said. “Seems like stuff changes on the daily. I don’t know. I can’t judge it. You judge it one way and you think you got an understanding. Then the understanding you thought you had goes completely a different way the next time. Maybe they’ll figure it out one day. It’s not up to me.”

Green could perhaps tame down his emotions after highlight plays or try not to storm away as angrily after questionable whistles.

But if you’re expecting any kind of change from Green, don’t.

“Change my approach from what?” he said. “I don’t know what other approach to take than walking toward the bench. Like, there’s no other approach to take than that. I’m going to continue to be the only person I know how to be. And that’s me. There’s a lot of guys who get home at night and they’re exhausted from acting all day. I only know how to be Draymond. That’s who I’ve been my entire life, that’s who I’ll continue to be. I won’t be exhausted from acting when I get home. That ain’t going to work for me. I won’t change my approach for anything. There’s no point.”

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No. 3: Durant not a fan of two minute reports — The Golden State Warriors blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead on Christmas Day, eventually losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 109-108. But a day after the game, the NBA released its Last Two Minute Report, noting that there were two incorrect calls that went against the Warriors in the game’s final two minutes. Warriors forward Kevin Durant says he feels like everyone should just move on…

After the game, Durant was asked about the play and responded, “I fell, and I didn’t fall on my own.”

Still, he says he does not favor a system that brings further scrutiny to missed calls.

“Just move on,” Durant said. “Don’t throw the refs under the bus like that. Because the next game, that group of refs or whoever it is, are going to come out and they’re going to ref the game. They’re going to be tense when they’re reffing the game and they’re going to try to get every play right. They’re going to try to be perfect, without just going out and relaxing and making the right call.”

Durant also said it’s hypocritical for the league to fine players for publicly criticizing referees while at the same time publicizing their mistakes.

“You can’t fine us for when we go out there and criticize them, but throw them under the bus for a two-minute report,” Durant argued. “What about the first quarter? What about the second quarter, the third quarter?

“Our refs don’t deserve that, and they’re trying their hardest to get the plays right, and you look at a play in slow motion and say it’s wrong. I think it’s bulls— that they do that. That’s full of s— that you throw the refs under the bus like that after the game like it matters. Game’s over, we moving on.”

Meanwhile, Warriors teammate Draymond Green said he was confused about how hanging-on-the-rim celebrations are inconsistently officiated. Green got a technical for hanging on the rim in the Warriors’ 104-74 win over the Jazz on Dec. 20, but LeBron James didn’t receive one for hanging on the rim in Sunday’s game.

“I don’t really have any answers for that,” he said. “Seems like stuff changes on the daily. I don’t know. I can’t judge it. You judge one way and you think you’ve got an understanding and then the understanding you thought you had goes completely a different way the next time, so maybe they’ll figure it out one day. That’s not really up to me.”

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No. 4: Drummond said no thanks to Barry — Pistons center Andre Durmmond is one of the NBA’s most dominant big men. He’s also one of the worst free throw shooters, averaging 38 percent for his career heading into this season. But according to Stan Van Gundy, when Rick Barry offered to work with Drummond over the summer to learn how to shoot free throws underhanded, Drummond passed, as Aaron McMann writes…

Here’s a revelation in the ongoing saga of Andre Drummond’s free-throw shooting: Rick Barry, the noted under-handed foul shooter of the 1970s, offered to help.

Stan Van Gundy confirmed the news Tuesday, saying Barry, a career 89 percent free-throw shooter, reached out to him over the summer as the Detroit Pistons mulled over what to do with their struggling All-Star center.

Drummond, who shot an NBA-worst 35.5 percent at the line in 2015-16, ultimately nixed the idea and went the route of virtual reality. He’s shooting a career-best 44.7 percent this season.

“Everything was considered, but he wasn’t as receptive,” Van Gundy said. “You don’t really want to do things guys aren’t receptive to.

“He’s made a significant improvement from last year. The guy’s up 10 percent. That’s a huge improvement. That’s certainly nowhere near where you want it. You certainly don’t want it below 50, but I think expecting him to go from 35 last year to 60 right away is probably an unrealistic expectation.”

The admission comes after Houston Rockets center Chinanu Onuaku became the first NBA player Monday to shoot under-handed free throws since Barry retired in 1980. Onuaku switched to the under-handed style after shooting 46.7 percent his rookie season at Louisville, improving to 58.9 percent his sophomore year.

In 26 games in the NBA Development League, he’s making free throws – underhanded – at a 67.4 percent clip.

“People have done it, tried it,” Van Gundy said. “People have tried everything. Tristan Thompson switched hands for God’s sakes. I know Rick Barry’s talked to me a couple times. He’s in disbelief more guys don’t do it.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Wizards weren’t happy with what they felt was stat-stuffing by the Bucks and Giannis … Josh McRoberts is out indefinitely with a foot injury … DeAndre Jordan was uninjured following a car accident in Los Angeles … Nerlens Noel is awaiting more playing time … Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell really loves dogs … Phil Jackson and Jeannie Buss have announced the end of their engagement … LeBron James was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year … Foot Locker is selling a collection of Craig Sager-themed pins to raise money for the Sager Strong foundation