Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers preview, Dec. 28, 2016

Following an unusually heated confrontation with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, it was back to business for the Dallas Mavericks.

That meant hopping on the team’s charter — again — for another trip to play another set of back-to-back games.

The Mavericks (9-23) will face the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, and then play their final game of 2016 in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors at 9:30 p.m. Friday. That will mark the 19th road game of the season, against 15 home games, and it will be their fourth game in five nights.

I don’t know what that was. It wasn’t even basketball. But we have to be better than that. There was an opportunity for us to channel it into basketball and we didn’t do that.

Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews on Tuesday’s testy game against the Rockets

Amid trash talking and a string a technical fouls, the Rockets humbled the Mavericks on Tuesday, beating them 123-107. It was the Mavericks’ 13th loss this season by 10 or more points and their ninth by 16 or more points.

How do the Mavericks recover?

“Just believe,” guard Wesley Matthews said. “It really is a simple solution — just believe.

“Every time you step on the court, just believe you are supposed to win the game.”

That other team was tripping tonight. They were disrespectful, were unprofessional players and coaches.

Rockets guard James Harden on the Mavericks

Tuesday’s chippy game consisted of eight technical fouls — three by Dallas — and Mavericks centers Andrew Bogut and Dwight Powell were each whistled for a flagrant foul.

Rockets forward Trevor Ariza and some of his teammates even waited outside the Mavericks’ locker room after the game so they could confront center Salah Mejri, who reportedly said some unkind things to Ariza about his mother. But with Dallas policemen and security nearby, nothing happened.

Bogut had good impact when he was in the game — that was a positive. He’s been a high impact guy for us all year.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on Andrew Bogut’s return

“I don’t know what that was,” Matthews said, referring to the near fights and hard fouls. “It wasn’t even basketball.

“But we have to be better than that. There was an opportunity for us to channel it into basketball and we didn’t do that.”

Merjri went to Twitter on Wednesday to deny the accusation.

“There is always two sides to every story,” Mejri said in his first tweet. “I would never insult an opponent’s family regardless of how much a player insulted me repeatedly.”

He followed soon afterward with another tweet.

“Last night was a physical, intense game. We are professional athletes and role models to young basketball players. I’m committed to mutual respect.”

Bogut returned Tuesday after missing 11 games with a bone bruise in his right knee and responded with no points, six rebounds and two blocks in 11 first-half minutes.

“Bogut had good impact when he was in the game — that was a positive,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been a high impact guy for us all year.”

Dirk Nowitzki, another high impact player, played his third game since missing 14 with a strained right Achilles. But Nowitzki struggled with only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting in 15 first-half minutes.

The Mavericks are 6-9 in December, their best month this season

Tuesday’s game was only the fourth all season in which Deron Williams, Harrison Barnes, Nowitzki, Matthews and Bogut started together. Dallas is 0-4 with that starting lineup.

The Mavericks still are missing guard J.J. Barea, a spark plug off the bench who has a left leg muscle strain.

The Mavericks are 6-9 in December, their best month of the season.

“It’s good to be getting healthier,” Carlisle said. “We’re struggling and we’re not playing great, obviously.

“We didn’t play particularly well [but] we kept scraping and kept fighting and I like that. We’ve just got to continue to do that.”

Mavericks at Lakers

9:30 p.m. Thursday, TNT

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