Nikola Jokic PUSHES Suns owner Mat Ishbia while retrieving ball from stands and receives technical foul… but still scores post season career-high of 53 points in Game 4 defeat to Phoenix
- Jokic scored a career-high 53 points in the defeat to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday
- There was no word from the league on potential further discipline as of yet
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic dismissed claims he could be suspended for Game 5 of the series with the Phoenix Suns after he got technical foul for pushing Suns owner Mat Ishbia in the game.
The incident was in the second quarter of Game 4 on Sunday when Suns guard Josh Okogie crashed into the seats while trying to save a loose ball. He landed in a group of fans on the baseline that included Ishbia, who grabbed the basketball.
Jokic was trying to get the basketball quickly – apparently so the Nuggets could start their offensive possession – when he tried to take the ball away from Ishbia. The ball flew backward into the crowd, and then Ishbia was knocked backward by Jokic’s elbow.
Jokic was unapologetic after the game, which the Suns won 129-124 but he scored a brilliant total of 53 points.
‘The fan put the hand on me first,’ Jokic said. ‘I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I am wrong. I know who he is, but he is sitting on the court so he is a fan, isn´t he? He cannot influence the game.’
Nikola Jokic was seen pushing Suns owner Mat Ishbia while attempting to get the ball
After the incident coaches, officials, and other players quickly stepped in two separate Jokic from the first row of the crowd
He was asked if he warried he risked a fine or suspension for Game 5.
‘Why? His hands are on me,’ Jokic said. They are not going to protect me? They are going to protect the fan? I’m talking about it as a player.
‘They can do whatever of course, they don’t care but I think they are supposed to protect players.’
Nuggets coach Michael Malone added: ‘(Jokic) is going to get the ball and some fan is holding on to the ball like he wants to be part of the game. Just give the ball up, man.’
When Malone was told the fan was Ishbia he simply responded: ‘I don’t give a s***. I really don’t care.’
There were a few minutes of confusion as officials sorted out the weird scene, and then Jokic was assessed a technical foul. The Suns made the ensuing free throw.
Suns star Devin Booker – who finished with 36 points and 12 assists – said he knew it was Ishbia in the middle of the fracas.
‘He got us a point!’ Booker said with a grin.
Despite the shove Jokic scored a career-high in the post season with over 50 points
Ishbia told The Associated Press at halftime that he was ‘fine’ and more worried about the game than the altercation.
He was back in his usual seats in the second half. The tiff didn’t seem to bother Jokic either – the MVP runner-up finished with 53 points on 20-of-30 shooting.
Ishbia has only been the Suns’ owner for a few months, purchasing the team from the embattled Robert Sarver.
Game 5 is on Tuesday in Denver. The series is tied at two games each.