Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic could face further punishment from the league after a brutal blindside on Miami Heat forward Markieff Morris in the dying stages of their game on Tuesday.
Jokic had lead the Nuggets to a blowout win at home against the Heat, with the home team comfortably ahead 111-94 and just over two minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.
'SO LUCKY': NBA shock as players millimetres from disaster
Typically with the chances of a comeback looking incredibly unlikely, NBA teams will treat the final moments of the game as somewhat or a formality - but it wasn't so on this occasion.
After grabbing a rebound, Jokic was pushing the ball up the floor when he took a hard foul from Morris, who intentionally bumped the Serbian big man to stop the fast break.
It looked to be a hard foul, but Jokic's reaction as Morris turned and walked away was completely unwarranted.
Jokic charged into Morris from behind, sending the Heat forward sprawling to the ground where he remained for several minutes as players converged and referees sought to maintain order.
Nikola Jokic and Markieff Morris were both ejected from the game after the two exchanged hard fouls. pic.twitter.com/AtOklXIU5k
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 9, 2021
A stretcher was briefly called for before a clearly worse for wear Morris was able to get on his feet and walk to the bench.
After a review, both Jokic and Morris were ejected from the game, while Heat star Jimmy Butler was handed a technical foul for his role in the resulting argy-bargy.
The Nuggets went on to claim a 113-97 victory, but it could be a bittersweet one if the NBA decides to step in.
NBA fans were less than impressed with Jokic's hit to the unaware Morris.
Jokic cannot do that. Heat player still down. That was disgusting and dangerous as hell.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 9, 2021
Curious to see how long Jokic gets suspended for. Feel like there will be one.
— Chris Herring (@Herring_NBA) November 9, 2021
Totally inexcusable. Jokic was having arguably his best game of the year, first triple-double and all anyone is going to remember is the dirty foul that could earn him a league suspension. Glad Morris appears to be okay. https://t.co/R82qJKpDK1
— Rob Low (@RobLowTV) November 9, 2021
Nikola Jokic just did one of the dirtiest things I’ve ever seen from a basketball game. He’d be wise to avoid Butler and UD in the locker room if he’d like to stay in one piece. Lmao. https://t.co/O64Od7gYPr
— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) November 9, 2021
That's going to be a looooong suspension for Nikola Jokic. Four steps and hitting Morris in the back and knocking him to the ground. That's as dirty as it gets.
— Jason Smith (@howaboutafresca) November 9, 2021
What was Jokic thinking? Awful
— David Lang (@Dukielang) November 9, 2021
The foul from Morris was unnecessary, but my God, Jokic. Second time he's totally lost his cool and that is an extremely dangerous retaliation. https://t.co/8JYZMImkB5
— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) November 9, 2021
Based on the impact that hit had on Morris, Jokic might get more than a game.
— Michael Spencer (@MichaelCBS4) November 9, 2021
Morris obviously isn't blameless - had his elbow up with his hit - but the Jokic hit, no-look-from-behind is such a coward move https://t.co/hJYjVHfGUM
Jokic left the game having already racked up a triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the blowout victory.
Many fans were confused by the sequence of events, with many questioning why both players reacted the way they had - Morris with the initial foul that was unnecessarily rough, and Jokic for dangerously overreacting.
Denver moved to a 6-4 record and sixth in the Western Conference after the win, while Miami remain second in the East.
Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. out for 'foreseeable future' with back injury
The Nuggets had already been dealing with enough bad news prior to the Jokic ejection, with star wing Michael Porter Jr. out indefinitely with a back injury.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said Monday night that Porter is dealing with a back injury he suffered on Saturday against the Houston Rockets, and that he has no idea when he’ll return.
“This is a process where we’re being very cautious, talking to doctors, getting imaging all that kind of stuff," Malone said, via The Athletic.
“Michael could be back in a week. It could be more than that. I don’t know. When I say foreseeable future, I don’t really know what that means. I just know he’s not playing tonight."
Porter came up with a steal in the first quarter of Denver's 95-94 win over the Rockets on Saturday, and had a wide-open lane to the rim.
What should have been an easy dunk turned into what will likely go down as the worst missed layup of the season.
Michael Porter Jr. really missed this layup 😳 pic.twitter.com/kFlZ2zvUau
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 6, 2021
Porter left the game quickly after that miss after he was seen limping and moving slowly. The Nuggets said he was dealing with lower back soreness.
Porter signed a five-year max extension worth up to $207 million with the Nuggets in September. The 23-year-old has struggled since then and has averaged 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 35.9% from the field and 21% from behind the arc.
Though there isn’t a timeline for his return, Porter’s latest back issue isn’t a good sign for a player with such an extensive injury history. He missed nearly all of his one college season at Missouri with a back injury and then missed his entire rookie season because of it.
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