Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic revealed he wanted to change the rhythm of Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns but he didn't expect to be ejected. Jokic took a swing at Suns guard Cameron Payne and received a flagrant 2 foul.
"I wanted to change the rhythm of the game, I wanted to give us some energy, maybe change the whistle a little bit, so I wanted to make a hard foul," Jokic said. "Did I hit him, did I not hit him? We don't know.
So I say sorry if I did because I did not want to injure him or hit him in the head on purpose." After a lengthy review, Jokic was thrown out of the game. "I thought honestly they would not eject me," Jokic said.
Nuggets coach didn't think Jokic deserved to be ejected
"I just didn't feel like it warranted a flagrant 2 ejection because he's making a play on the ball," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "There's marginal contact to Cameron Payne's nose I believe.
So I was shocked. I'm still a little bit shocked that they called a flagrant 2 and ejected the MVP on such a play. "From my vantage point and watching the replay, I did not think it was a non-basketball play with malicious intent.
I think it was a frustration foul. Nikola probably felt the last couple plays when he had the ball he had not received a foul call. And he went over there to take a foul. Which he has done plenty of times. A lot of players do that."
Suns head coach Monty Williams saw nothing malicious in what Jokc did. "I didn't really think it was anything malicious," Williams said. "In those moments you have to regulate your emotions. That's what we've been talking about all season long.'
' Malone added: "I think it was something like, windup, malicious intent, some other mumbo jumbo. "Obviously, you lose the MVP, it's going to make it even harder to stave off elimination." Suns guard Devin Booker also suggested Jokic should not have been ejected.
"That's all I said, just 'What are you doing?'" Booker said. "It's just an emotional play. I don't think he meant harm by it. Just a frustration foul. It's tough, just defending my teammate, that was it.
"I've played against the Joker multiple times," Booker said. "I know he's not a malicious player."