Nikola Jokic was ejected from Game 4 after a frustration foul on Cam Payne.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets and for Nikola Jokic, one moment of frustration ended his night early on Sunday.
Late in the third quarter, with the Suns doing their best to stave off another Denver run, Phoenix guard Cameron Payne tracked down a loose-ball rebound in the corner. Jokic, upset with the way the game had been going after fishing for another call, went after Payne, wound up and fouled him as hard as he could.
The Joker made contact with the ball, but not before swiping across Payne’s entire body and catching him right in the nose. Devin Booker immediately got in Jokic’s face to let him know that kind of dirty foul was unacceptable, sticking up for his teammate.
After a lengthy review, Jokic was hit with a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game. Booker earned a technical for escalating the situation.
Nikola Jokic was ejected in a do-or-die Game 4
This is a really unfortunate way for Jokic’s MVP season to come to an end. While Deandre Ayton had done a very good job on him in this series, Jokic was clearly Denver’s only hope of remaining competitive against a superior Suns team, and after such a memorable year, it’s regrettable he didn’t get to be on the court for the fourth quarter of an elimination game.
To his credit, he also knew he had messed up, apologizing to Payne before leaving the game.
With that being said, it was clearly a dirty foul, and the only thing that might have prevented Jokic from being ejected after that kind of windup was his status as the league MVP. Unfortunately for Denver, that wasn’t enough to spare him, and the Suns quickly built their largest lead of the night not long afterward with a 15-point advantage.