- Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic could be facing a possible suspension from the NBA after the reigning league MVP was ejected with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat for aggressively blindsiding Heat power forward Markieff Morris in retaliation to a hard foul.
Jokic was bringing the ball down the court after a rebound and was attempting to pass it when Morris, trying to stop the play, gave a hard foul with his left elbow when Jokic was near midcourt. As Morris walked away, an irate Jokic took a couple of steps and delivered a hard right forearm shove with his weight behind him to Morris’ back, sending the Heat forward flying hard toward the floor.
“It’s a stupid play,” Jokic said after the game. “I feel bad… I think it was a dirty play and I just needed to protect myself. I am not supposed to react that way… it happens. I feel bad. I am not supposed to react that way but I got to protect myself… it was just in the moment.”
Morris was assessed a flagrant foul two while Jokic was ejected before the Nuggets would take a 113-96 win over Miami.
Jokic’s retaliation from behind will certainly be reviewed by the NBA, which could levy a suspension and fine.
“That was a very dangerous and dirty play,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Keef took a foul and it was one of those fastbreak-take fouls and he did with his shoulder. You might deem that maybe as a little bit more than just slapping somebody but after watching it on film it was a take foul. That’s how I saw it. And the play after that’s just absolutely uncalled for.”
Jokic left with a triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Nuggets, already without the injured Jamal Murray, were also playing without Michael Porter Jr. due to a lower back injury. Denver, which plays Indiana on Wednesday, could potentially be without both Porter and Jokic in that game.
“I will concern myself when they tell us he’s suspended,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said when asked about a possible suspension for Jokic. “I am not going to waste any of my time looking into my crystal ball and my tea leaves. I don’t have any of that. He’s available until they tell me he’s not. And I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be available Wednesday night.”
Spoelstra said Morris was OK after the hard foul and was moving around in the locker room afterward.
“This whole thing could have been a whole lot uglier if Markieff was actually facing Jokic,” Spoelstra said. “The fact that he had his back turned and he made a play like that, blindsiding him, just a very dangerous play.”
The altercation resulted in both coaching staffs and officials trying to keep the peace. As Jokic sat on the bench while things were still being sorted out on the court, emotions were running high as Miami’s Jimmy Butler shouted toward the Nuggets and had to be held back.
“The video and picture is worth a thousand words,” Spoelstra added when asked about the mood of the Heat players after the incident.
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