NBA MVP Nikola Jokic Ejected, Nuggets Swept by Suns in 2nd Round

Nikola Jokic and Devin Booker nose-to-nose following a hard foul by Jokic on Suns guard Cameron Payne that would result in Jokic being ejected from Game 4. (Photo: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Something that's likely never happened in NBA history, or certainly in recent memory, the Most Valuable Player in the league was ejected in an elimination game. At the 3:52 mark of the 3rd quarter NBA MVP Nikola Jokic swiped down on Suns guard Cameron Payne following Nuggets miss, and during the play on the ball, which Jokic knocked away from Payne, grazed Payne's face. After a chest-to-chest altercation with Suns guard Devin Booker, in which he and Jokic had to be separated and were both given technical fouls, the game officials determined via replay that Jokic had committed a "Flagrant 2" foul on Payne and thus, the MVP was sent to the locker room with almost 16 minutes left in the game.

Denver Head Coach Michael Malone was understandably disappointed to lose his MVP

With Jokic in the locker room, his team gave a valiant effort, but Booker and future hall-of-famer Chris Paul were just too good to allow Denver to cut the lead to anything close than 5, at 101-96.

Paul led all scorers with 37 points on 14-of-19 shooting and 7 assists, including a couple to Booker who had 32

Jokic had a double-double when he exited with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and his 4 assists had him at least on his way to perhaps another triple-double.

In Joker’s absence, his teammates just couldn’t make up for both no MVP, and no Jamal Murray. Both of who keyed the Denver run in last year’s playoffs all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Guard Will Barton seemed to not worry about his hamstring and was able to drop 25, Forward Michael Porter Jr. fought through back issues and posted 20 points.

Following the game everyone with the Nuggets had a hard time putting the season into perspective, because of the playoff sweep as well as the turn of events in Game 4 surrounding Joker’s ejection. Jokic didn't want to dwell on the ejection, said it was in the past, but admitted, he was trying to commit a hard foul to maybe change momentum.

Malone didn't want the Jokic ejection and the sweep in the series to overshadow the season where the Nuggets were the only team of the Final Four last year in the bubble to advance past the 1st round, and the only team in the Western Conference with a Top 4 seed each of the last 3 seasons, "When you find some time to reflect on the season, remember all the great things we did this season," Malone said. "I’m not gonna allow the series to define the season. And Malone loved how his players responded in Game 4 after the ejection of the MVP, "I thought it was tremendous for the guys that were out there. No Jamal (Murray), No P.J.(Dozier), Nikola gets ejected, really easy to throw in the towel."

Jokic echoed the sentiments of his head coach, "They beat us, they whooped our ass," he said. "I think the whole team needs to walk out of the arena with our heads up. Sometimes teams beat you. You have to accept it. Just have to be better. The whole season was great, I think until the last 4 games."

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