HOUSTON — When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban abruptly ran into Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard in the hallway of the Toyota Center before Friday’s game, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what would happen next.Cuban immediately went on the defense, explaining to Howard the inflammatory comments he made Thursday about Howard and his free agency decision.Howard chose to sign a four-year, $88 million contract with the Rockets in July instead of signing with the Mavs. That decision didn’t sit well with Cuban, who knew he had some explaining to do when he and Howard crossed paths in the hallway.“When he stopped you kind of figured out — it wasn’t tough to figure out,” Cuban said. “It was, ‘Hey, what’s going on.’ “I think anybody who doesn’t come to the Mavs is making a mistake — an error in judgment. I told Dwight anybody who doesn’t come here is an idiot, and if I didn’t say that I’d be an idiot, because that’s the reality.”On Thursday, Cuban was clear that he thought Howard made the wrong choice.“Obviously he made a mistake in judgment,” Cuban said Thursday. “Do I blame him? No.“That’s what young kids do. They make mistakes in judgment. Seriously.”Howard was smiling Friday when Cuban was explaining his point.“He was fine, it was nice,” Cuban said. “I said I wasn’t picking on him, but it was just common sense. “I don’t know if he understood it, but that’s the reality. If you’re a free agent and you picked somewhere else [other than the Mavs], you made an error in judgment.”Cuban said he feels the same way about any free agent, whether it would be LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Kobe Bryant,who all become free agents next summer. He just didn’t want Howard thinking he was criticizing only him for deciding not to play for the Mavs.“I like Dwight,’’ Cuban said. “It’s not like I don’t like the guy. We get along.” Israel impactFor the first time in NBA history Friday, two players from Israel were on the same court at the same time.Mavs guard Gal Mekel and Rockets forward Omri Casspi are the only two players from Israel in the NBA, and reporters from Israel attended Friday’s game to mark the special occasion.“It’s made leaps and bounds where now we’ve gone from one guy [from Israel] to two in the league, and they played together growing up,” Cuban said before Friday’s game. “I know they were friends and I know it’ll be special to them, and I know it’ll be a big deal in Israel, too, which is cool.” No contactCuban said he hasn’t talked with ex-Mavs general manager Gersson Rosas since he turned in his resignation Tuesday. Rosas joined the Mavs from the Rockets on Aug. 1, but resigned after 90 days on a job Cuban said was a 90-day trial.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice