DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets remain in a holding pattern as they await the league’s decision on possible disciplinary action after center Nikola Jokic made contact in the stands with Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia.
Ishbia feels the same way.
From his Twitter account Monday, Ishbia praised his team’s performance and urged no further disciplinary action for the Nuggets two-time NBA MVP.
“Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!” Ishbia posted. “That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last nights incident would not be right. I have alot of respect for Jokic and don’t want to see anything like that. Excited for game 5! Go Suns!”
A fine could be in line Monday for the two-time NBA MVP. Or no punishment at all. But a suspension isn’t out of the realm of possibility, either, with the second-round series moving back to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday night tied at 2-2 after both teams held serve at home
Nuggets coach Michael Malone is scheduled to address the media Monday afternoon.
Jokic was assessed a technical foul in the second quarter of Game 4 on Sunday when the big man tried to snatch the ball back from Ishbia, who was sitting courtside and hit Ishbia with an elbow.
The situation set social media ablaze and overshadowed a game in which the Suns won 129-124. One of the topics up for debate was whether it was a flop by Ishbia, a former walk-on basketball player at Michigan State, or excessive contact from Jokic.
The mini-fracas began 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 held on to the basketball.
Jokic was trying to get the ball quickly — apparently, so the Nuggets could start getting into their offensive possession — when he attempted to grab the ball away from Ishbia. The ball flew backward into the crowd, and then Ishbia was knocked backward by Jokic’s elbow.
Jokic defended his actions after a game in which he had 53 points and 11 assists.
“The fan put the hand on me first,” Jokic explained. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I am wrong. I know who he is, but he is a fan. Isn’t he?”
Added Malone: 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.”
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.
Devin Booker finished with 36 points and 12 assists. He also gave a shout-out to the Suns’ owner.
“He got us a point!” Booker said with a grin.
Ishbia has only been the Suns’ owner for a few months, purchasing the team from the embattled Robert Sarver.
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 seat in the second half.
The tiff didn’t seem to bother Jokic, either — the MVP runner-up scored or assisted on 78 points Sunday, which was the most in a playoff game by a center in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.