'Whatever it was, it was terrible': James Harden, Mario Chalmers host a dirty-off

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For the third time in as many games, the Memphis Grizzlies and their fans have frustrated opponents to the point of retaliation, so maybe Grit ‘n’ Grind didn’t leave Memphis with Tony Allen and Zach Randolph.

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First, a Grizzlies fan baited New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins into blurting, “F*** you, b****,” adding a $25,000 fine to a season-opening loss to Memphis, and then Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry got so enraged in the final minute of a loss at the hands of the Grizzlies that he threw his mouthpiece “in the direction of a game official,” earning a $50,000 fine for his actions.

Now, Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers tripped up Houston Rockets star James Harden, eliciting a shove from the MVP runner-up that boiled over into a scrum in the final minutes of a 98-90 loss to Memphis:

Here’s the play-by-play: Harden threw his shoulder into Chalmers on a moving screen that was not called a foul by a referee that was watching the play develop from a few feet away, Chalmers intentionally tried to trip Harden with a scissor kick that was not called a foul by that same frozen ref, and then Harden retaliated, finally earning a whistle for an offensive foul that redefined offensive:

That’s not the best part. As the referees sorted out what was eventually called offsetting technical fouls by the officiating crew upon review, Rockets wing Trevor Ariza summarily mocked Harden for how he squared up in the scrum in a manner that would have made Jean Claude Van Damme proud:

Chalmers is a notorious pest. He’s elbowed San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker‘s stomach and delivered forearms to the necks of All-Star forwards Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki. Harden is no saint, either. He’s shoved Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard in the back, kicked Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James in the groin and pinched Warriors forward Draymond Green in the stomach.

So, it was only fitting that the two finally met in a contest to see who could out-dirty the other.

The result was a Memphis possession on which James Ennis responded with a three-point play, and the Grizzlies outscored the Rockets 10-2 over the final 2:46 to secure a third straight win. The Grizzlies join the Spurs and Clippers as the only unbeaten teams left in the West, and wins over Golden State and Houston give the Grizz the NBA’s most impressive résumé through one week.

Long live Grit ‘n’ Grind, I guess?

“Whatever it was,” Harden told reporters when asked about the scuffle, “it was terrible.”

“Playoff intensity,” added Chalmers. “That’s all it was. Nothing major. Just playing basketball.”

Is that what that was? The Grizzlies next face the Dallas Mavericks in a back-to-back set, so I guess we can expect Memphis to spend the next few days finding out what gets under Nowitzki’s skin.

Hint: It’s microphones. Dirk hates microphones:

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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