After battling Nikola Jokic for more than three quarters on Monday, Golden State Warriors big man Draymond Green was very happy to see him make an early exit.
Jokic was ejected from the Denver Nuggets’ 126-106 loss to the Warriors on April 18, a game that put the Nuggets in an 0-2 hole in the opening-round playoff series and led to some boiling-over frustrations for the reigning MVP. Jokic was ejected with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter after complaining about what he believed was a missed call.
As he headed for the locker room, Jokic received a less-than-fond farewell from Green.
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Green Taunts After Jokic Sent Off
The Nuggets center was unhappy with the officiating throughout Monday’s game, frequently protesting at what he believed were missed fouls. Jokic received one technical foul late in the third quarter for slamming the ball onto the ground when he was called for a foul, then was ejected when he received another in the fourth quarter for complaining that he had been fouled on a Green block.
As Jokic made his way to the exit, Green stopped to give a taunting wave goodbye.
After the game, Green said he and the Warriors were trying to feed into the frustrations of the Nuggets.
“If you feel like you’re getting under their skin you press up a little more,” Green said. “If you don’t feel like you’re getting under their skin, you press up a little more.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone admitted that Jokic has been growing frustrated at not getting calls, but said he needs to do a better job containing his emotions.
“I feel his frustration,” Malone told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “I think he’s getting fouled like he thinks he’s getting fouled. He’s not getting the call. But he has to find a way to play through that. He’s way too valuable.”
With Jokic out of the game, the Warriors closed out the Nuggets with ease, only allowing the lead to fall below 20 points briefly in the final minutes after Steve Kerr cleared the bench.
The tension among Nuggets players was evident throughout Monday’s loss. Jokic lost his cool earlier in the game, getting angry after Gary Payton II blocked his shot then gave a slap on his backside during a timeout. Jokic and Steph Curry exchanged some words at the end of the first quarter. The Nuggets had some infighting as well, as Will Barton and DeMarcus Cousins grew heated during a timeout and had to be separated by teammates.
Green, Warriors Containing Jokic
Some of Jokic’s frustration could come from his struggles through the first two games of the series. Though Jokic scored 26 points on Monday, he shot only 9 for 20 and has missed all eight of his three-point attempts during the series.
With the Warriors rolling out smaller lineups to much success in the first two games, Green has often drawn the assignment to guard Jokic and done well.
The teams will now have two days off before playing Game 3 in Denver on Thursday night.