The Denver Nuggets scrapped throughout the first three quarters of Game 4 as they tried to stave off elimination, but as the Suns kept pushing every comeback attempt away — often with Chris Paul hitting jumper after jumper — frustration began to build for a Denver team on the verge of being swept.
Down 8 in the third quarter, Nikola Jokic felt he had gotten fouled and lost it, taking a frustration foul in the backcourt on Cameron Payne, but did so with a violent swing that caught Payne across the face, sparking a brief kerfuffle in which Devin Booker got in Jokic’s face, who seemed ready to rumble with the Suns star if need be.
Jokic got ejected after this hard foul on Payne 😯 pic.twitter.com/EvG1Dfvuub
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 14, 2021
You can see from this angle how Jokic wound up and swung down on Payne, hitting him across the nose which left the Suns reserve guard down on the ground for some time although he would stay in the game to hit his free throws.
The hard hit to the face and the manner in which he wound up earned Jokic an ejection for a Flagrant 2 foul and it seemed likely that the MVP’s spectacular season would end on the most sour of notes with a terrible decision to go at Payne the way he did. Jokic would apologize to Payne before he left the floor, with the Nuggets season all but walking out the door with him.