The Denver Nuggets essentially had no chance when MVP Nikola Jokic was tossed from Sunday’s Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns after being called for a flagrant foul.
Jokic was ejected in the third quarter for a hard hit on Suns guard Cameron Payne. While it certainly warranted a foul, many were wondering if Jokic deserved an ejection.
After the game, the 26-year-old provided an honest take on the foul and apologized to Payne in the process.
“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, according to ESPN’s Royce Young. “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.”
Jokic added that he honestly didn’t think he was going to be ejected. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone concurred, saying he didn’t feel like the play warranted a flagrant ejection because Jokic was “making a play on the ball.”
With Jokic sidelined, the Suns went on to win Game 4 125-118 to move on to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, have some questions to answer entering the offseason. One of those questions should be how they can build a true title contender led by Jokic.