With the Denver Nuggets on the brink of playoff elimination, league MVP Nikola Jokic was ejected from Sunday night’s game with a Flagrant 2 foul after taking a wild swing in frustration at Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne.
After a lengthy review, Jokic was handed the Flagrant 2 and ejected from Game 4 of Denver’s Western Conference semifinal series with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter and the Nuggets trailing the Suns by eight.
The foul came after Jokic didn’t get a call on a one-handed runner, as he briefly glanced over at a referee and gestured. In apparent frustration at the no-call, he ran over to take a hard swipe at the ball, hitting Payne across the face.
Referee David Guthrie could be heard on the broadcast explaining the decision, saying, “After replay review, there is wind up, impact and follow-through.”
Suns star Devin Booker took immediate exception to the play from Jokic, confronting the big man as both teams briefly scuffled before being separated. Booker was assessed a technical foul.,
After he was ejected, Jokic appeared to apologize to Payne.
A Flagrant 2 is defined as being “unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent.”
The Suns lead the series 3-0 and have had complete control since Game 1, winning all three games by double figures.
Jokic left the game having recorded 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds and 4 assists in 28 minutes.