Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 53 points on Sunday night as the Denver Nuggets lost 129-124 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinal Series to the Suns. But all the post-game chatter was about him grabbing the ball away from Suns owner Matt Ishbia in a courtside brawl and Ishbia apparently flopping on contact that ensued.
With two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second quarter, the momentum brought Suns Josh Okogee and the ball to the front row. Okogee ended up lying on some fans and the ball ended up in the hands of Ishbia.
Jokic tried to grab the ball, hoping to inbound and restart the game quickly with a 5-4 advantage. Ishubia resisted and the ball splashed to other fans a few feet away.
Jokic’s forearm then made contact with Ishubia. Ishbia probably remembers his days as a player at the end of the bench at Michigan State, selling contacts hard, throwing his hands in the air and falling to his seat.
Jokic was ruled a technical foul.
“Jokic came to get the ball and took it away from the fan. Then he deliberately pushed him and pushed him down, so an unsportsmanlike technical foul was awarded.” said after the game.
The Brothers decided that a technical foul was an appropriate penalty as there was some engagement that Jokic was not kicked out. ”
The Suns won the game, tying the best-of-seven series in all two games.
‘The fans put their hands on me first’, says Jokic said after the game. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I’m wrong.”
“He’s a fan — I know who he is, but he’s a fan, right?” cannot influence the game by holding the ball.”
Ishbia seemed ready to get over the incident monday morning twitter: “It is not right to suspend or fine anyone for last night’s incident,” he wrote.
The Nuggets were eager for the same. “I think it’s crazy that Nicolas did a technical foul in that situation,” said the coach. Michael Malone said“He’s trying to get the ball and some fans are holding onto it as if he wants to be part of the game. Give up the ball, man.”
Fan said it was Ishbia and said, “I really don’t care.”
The incident barely slowed Jokic, who scored 53 points on 20-of-30 shooting. He also had 11 assists.
Jokic won the Most Valuable Player award in 2021 and 2022, finishing second to the 76ers’ Joel Embiid this season. However, in his eight years with Denver, he has only made it to the Conference Finals once, and has never made it to the NBA Finals. Expectations are high for Denver as the No. 1 seed this season. Game 5 will be played in Denver on Tuesday night, Game 6 on Thursday and Game 7 on Sunday if necessary.