NBA-Nuggets center Jokic apologises after being ejected against Suns

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Jun 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball as Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) defends in the third quarter during game four in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

June 14, 2021

(Reuters) – Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has apologised after the NBA’s MVP was ejected for taking a swing at Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne in Sunday’s Western Conference semi-final exit.

Jokic caught Payne across the face as the Serbian attempted to steal the ball with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter.

Suns guard Devin Booker confronted Jokic after the foul and the teams briefly scuffled before being separated.

Jokic was ejected following a review. He finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds as Denver lost Game Four 118-125 and were swept 4-0 in the best-of-seven series.

“I thought honestly they would not eject me,” Jokic said.

“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.

“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.”

Booker, who was given a technical foul for the confrontation, said Jokic’s foul was an “emotional play”.

“I don’t think he meant harm by it,” Booker said. “Just a frustration foul. It’s tough, just defending my team mate, that was it.

“I know he’s not a malicious player,” he said of Jokic.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)





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