Nikola Jokic Faces Suspension After Fight

A suspension may be coming for Nuggets center Nikola Jokic after a violent hit on Heat forward Markieff Morris in the late stages of Monday’s game, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

With 2:39 remaining and Denver leading by 17 points, Morris committed a hard intentional foul on Jokic at midcourt. The reigning MVP responded by charging at Morris and hitting him in the back with his right forearm and shoulder. According to Vardon, Morris’ head snapped back and he collapsed to the floor while grabbing his forehead as a fight erupted between the other players on the court.

Miami’s medical team, along with paramedics, spent several minutes checking on Morris before he was able to walk to the locker room with help from teammates. After the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra blasted Jokic for his actions.

“It’s just absolutely uncalled for, and it would have looked a lot different, this whole thing could have been a lot uglier if Markieff was actually facing Jokic,” Spoelstra said. “The fact that he had his back turned, and he made a play like that, blindsiding, it was just a very dangerous play.”

Jokic, who was ejected, admitted that he handled the situation poorly, saying, “It’s a stupid play. I feel bad.” Morris received a Flagrant-2 foul and was also ejected for prompting the incident.

“The contact by Morris was interpreted to be excessive and unnecessary based on the following criteria,” referee Kevin Scott explained. “One, the severity of the contact. Two, whether or not the player was making a legitimate basketball play. Three, the potential for injury resulting from the contact, and four, the outcome of the contact led to an altercation.”

Denver coach Michael Malone told reporters that he expects to have Jokic available for Wednesday’s game, but admitted that he hadn’t watched a replay of the incident. Vardon considers a suspension to be inevitable.

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