NBA playoffs

Nuggets’ Jokic apologizes after being ejected vs Suns

Nuggets’ Jokic apologizes after being ejected vs Suns

SWEEP. The Nuggets fall to the Suns in the four games as Nikola Jokic gets ejected in Game 4.

Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic says he only wanted to 'change the rhythm of the game' following his hard foul on Suns guard Cameron Payne in Game 4

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has apologized after he got ejected for taking a swing at Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne in their Western Conference semifinals exit.

Jokic caught Payne across the face as the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player attempted to steal the ball with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter.

Suns guard Devin Booker confronted Jokic after the foul and the teams briefly scuffled before being separated.

Jokic was ejected following a review. He finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds as Denver lost Game 4, 118-125, and were swept 4-0 in the best-of-seven series.

“I thought honestly they would not eject me,” Jokic said.

“I wanted to change the rhythm of the game, I wanted to give us some energy, maybe change the whistle a little bit, so I wanted to make a hard foul.”

“Did I hit him, did I not hit him? We don’t know. So I say sorry if I did because I did not want to injure him or hit him in the head on purpose.”

Booker, who was given a technical foul for the confrontation, said Jokic’s foul was an “emotional play.”

“I don’t think he meant harm by it,” Booker said. “Just a frustration foul. It’s tough, just defending my teammate, that was it.”

“I know he’s not a malicious player,” he said of Jokic. –