DALLAS • Dallas Mavericks centre Andrew Bogut did not see what the fuss was about, but his hard foul on Houston star James Harden helped send the infuriated Rockets into orbit on Tuesday.
The Australian was called for a Flagrant One foul in the second quarter of the National Basketball Association (NBA) game when he set a jarring screen on Harden.
The Rockets were on an 11-0 scoring run at the time and Harden's ensuing two free throws and a three-pointer stretched it to 16-0.
"I don't know what they were on tonight," Harden said after the Rockets triumphed 123-107 in an ill-tempered clash in Dallas that featured eight technical fouls, two Flagrant One fouls and the ejection of the Rockets' Trevor Ariza.
"That other team was... just disrespectful, unprofessional - players and coaches. I don't know what was their problem, but 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, back after missing 11 games with a bone bruise on his right knee, said he did not think he committed a flagrant foul.
"If you watch the replay, (Harden) made no effort to run around my screen," he said. "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 (Mavs guard) Justin Anderson had his wrist in a jiu-jitsu hold four plays later, and that was brushed off like a regular foul."
Bogut then took a thinly-veiled shot at the league office and its officiating centre in New Jersey.
"You admire the effort the league's putting in in Secaucus with that beautiful facility where they watch replays and watch TV and have leather chairs and all that kind of stuff," he said. "But you scratch your head at a lot of these things and it becomes very frustrating."
He said the fouls had nothing to do with the fact that the Mavericks "got absolutely killed" by the Rockets, who have won 13 of their last 15 games.
Harden scored 34 points with 11 assists for Houston, who got 22 points from Ryan Anderson.
"Obviously it's a competition," Anderson said. "You have guys battling each other, you get hit and you feel like you have to retaliate sometimes. But we held our heads, we got the win, and that's all that matters."
The animosity did not end at the final buzzer. Ariza, ejected after receiving a second technical foul in the game, was still angry with Mavericks centre Salah Mejri after the game, although a hallway showdown between the two was averted.
"I don't know what that was. It wasn't even basketball," Dallas guard Wesley Matthews said of explosive emotions on display.
"We have to be better than that. There was opportunity for us to channel it into basketball, and we didn't do that."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS