Nikola Jokic got fed up after multiple no-calls.
He vented to the officiating crew and it backfired. The Nuggets’ reigning MVP got ejected with a double-technical Monday night at Ball Arena with six minutes to go against Washington.
“To be honest, I think I didn’t deserve it, especially an ejection,” Jokic told reporters after a 113-107 victory. “I just said: ‘Call a foul.’ Because I thought it was a foul.”
Jokic narrowly missed a massive triple-double: 28 points, 19 rebounds and 9 assists. The Nuggets grew their lead to 33 points in the third quarter. But the absence of Jokic created tension as Washington clawed back to within six points late in the fourth.
“I’m watching the game in the locker room,” Jokic said. “It’s a little bit different. You cannot help and be there. That was my mistake, of course. But they figured it out. The most important thing is they won the game.”
Jokic has been ejected twice in 22 games played this season. The latest toss was far less dramatic than his November shoving incident with Miami’s Markieff Morris. But the same lessons apply. Jokic is susceptible to losing his cool under duress.
“You give your opponent extra points and extra possessions. That’s too important,” coach Michael Malone said. “On top of that, Nikola is our best player. He’s the best player in the league. We’re a much better team when he’s on the floor and available. Not in the locker room.”
Nuggets forward Jeff Green said: “We hate to see (Jokic) get tossed in the fourth quarter. … It was tough. But we found a way (to win).”
Jokic declined to discuss the specifics of what led to his frustration with officiating. But video review leading up to the outburst shows two hard screens against Jokic with no whistles.
Spencer Dinwiddie also appeared to hit Jokic with an elbow on a hard drive to the basket — contact that went uncalled — two plays before his ejection.
“I really don’t what to talk about (what happened) because whatever I say is not going to change it,” Jokic said. “This is the best league in the world — with probably the best players in the world and probably the best referees in the world. Everybody is doing their job on a high level.”