One team has been the unexpected class of the West in the first half of this season. The other has come alive lately after a sluggish start to put themselves back in the playoff picture. So when the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz met on Wednesday night, it was bound to be a hard-fought contest.
But nobody expected the sparks to fly so quickly. Toward the end of the first quarter, Derrick Favors and Mason Plumlee got tangled up fighting for a rebound, and what initially started as a relatively minor encounter at the rim quickly escalated into a full-fledged shoving match that nearly spilled over into the stands under the basket.
When it was all over, Plumlee and Favors both earned ejections for their part in the melee, but that may not be the end of the repercussions once the league offices take a closer look at the footage. Several Denver players who were on the bench at the time, including star big man Nikola Jokic, appeared to leave the sideline to defend their teammates, which would be an automatic suspension if deemed that they did so.
Jokic was one of the key figures for the Nuggets who may have ventured too far off the bench to get involved in the scuffle, so it remains to be seen whether consequences will be forthcoming for the player who appears well on his way to his first All-Star appearance.
Emotions get heated quickly in situations like these, and fortunately things cooled down relatively quickly, but a quick lapse of judgment could end up being costly for a team that is fighting for the top spot in the West.