The Denver Nuggets have tread water to start the season, but looked to be in line for a comfortable, easy win over one of the league’s best teams so far on Monday night. Up 17 at home against the Miami Heat, the Nuggets controlled the game throughout, but things took a dramatic turn late in the fourth quarter.
Markieff Morris gave Nikola Jokic a hard take foul at midcourt (that was assessed a Flagrant 2) that upset the reigning MVP, who snapped and charged Morris from behind as he was walking away, hitting Morris in the back/neck with a vicious shoulder that sent Morris to the ground and earned Jokic an ejection.
Nikola Jokic clobbers Markieff Morris from behind late in the fourth quarter and things get intense. pic.twitter.com/9RclknqIKB
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) November 9, 2021
Morris had to be attended to by the Heat’s medical staff and the stretcher was brought out initially, but thankfully Morris was able to walk off on his own power after being down for some time. Unsurprisingly, the Heat were infuriated by Jokic’s cheap shot, with Jimmy Butler wanting to fight the Serbian big man.
It is as bad of an act as you will see on an NBA floor and it’s not the first time Jokic has crossed the line after getting upset. He got ejected from Game 4 of the Nuggets second round loss to the Suns after hammering Cameron Payne in the face, and he’s been known to take aggressive fouls when he’s upset with not getting a call himself. This one seemed to be frustration with Morris fouling him hard when the game was decided, but there’s no excuse for charging someone from behind like this and a lengthy suspension seems all but assured for the MVP, which will be disastrous for the Nuggets.
UPDATE: After the game, no Heat players spoke with the media, but Erik Spoelstra gave a brief update on Morris and expressing that he was understandably upset by Jokic’s hit on Morris.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says that Markieff Morris is moving around in the locker room but the team will do “necessary tests.”
He added that Morris fouled Jokic but said Jokic executed a “dangerous, dirty play… It’s absolutely uncalled for.”
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) November 9, 2021
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) November 9, 2021
Jokic did speak after the game and said he “felt bad” and that it was “stupid” for him to react that way.
Jokic: “It’s a stupid thing, I feel bad. I’m not supposed to react that way.” Said he was expecting a take foul, felt it was a dirty foul and needed to “protect himself.”
Said he feels really bad Markieff was hurt.
Gonna go ahead and turn off replies on this one.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 9, 2021
Nikola Jokic: "I don't know who showed me the clip but [Morris'] head snapped back. I felt really bad."
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) November 9, 2021