With 2:42 left in the second quarter of Game 4, Phoenix Suns guard Josh Okogie was battling for possession of the basketball with Denver Nuggets’ star Nikola Jokic which resulted in the play spilling into the stands. When the Nuggets obtained possession, Jokic entered the crowd to get the ball from a fan, who he inadvertently elbowed, resulting in a technical foul for the two-time NBA MVP. However, the fan turned out to be Suns’ owner Mat Ishbia.
Per the NBA Rule book, “any coach, player, trainer, or other team bench person who deliberately enters the spectator stands during the game will be automatically ejected and the incident reported by e-mail to Basketball Operations.” After reviewing the play, the NBA announced they would not suspend Jokic for Game 5 but the Nuggets big man will be fined $25,000 for his involvement, per ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
“The NBA isn’t suspending Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic for Game 5 against the Phoenix Suns,” Wojnarowski wrote on May 8.
“The league announced Monday that it fined Jokic $25,000 for his slight push of Suns owner Mat Ishbia in Game 4 while trying to retrieve the ball in the crowd, but he’ll be available to play Tuesday night in Denver with the series tied 2-2.”
Following the announcement, Nuggets and Suns fans had strong reactions to the two-time MVP being available for a Game 5 that could very well decide the series.
Ishbia Called Out for ‘Hilariously Lame’ Altercation
A lot of controversy surrounded the incident between Ishbia and Jokic. Especially because the Nuggets center got called for a technical foul even though the Suns’ owner appeared to be the instigator in this situation. Jokic was trying to take advantage of a potential 4-on-5 fast break situation and instead cost his team points, the exact result Ishbia was looking for. The actions of the Suns’ owner were much to the dismay of Athletic writer Jon Krawczynski.
“That flop will go down as one of the most hilariously lame acts we’ve ever seen from an owner at a game. It seems to me that Ishbia was surprised by Jokic. The ball fell in his lap, and as he stood up, he looked over to see Jokic coming toward him and starting to grab the ball. I don’t think he was intentionally holding the ball to prevent the Nuggets from going on a 5-on-4 break. I think he was just reacting in the heat of the moment,” Krawczynski said via The Athletic.
“The former player in him likely kicked in there. We all know that on the court when someone tries to grab the ball, the last thing you do is let go of it. If that’s the initial reaction, fine. But he has to find some sense and not push up on Jokic after the initial tussle.”
Shamet Pays Homage to Devin Booker, Kevin Durant
Devin Booker and Kevin Durant had to put up historic offensive numbers to clinch a win in Game 3, so the Suns’ stars were looking for more help from their teammates heading into Game 4.
That help came in the form of reserve guard Landry Shamet, who was the Suns’ third-leading scorer in the game with 19 points. Shamet, who had not cracked double-digit scoring since April 9, was ecstatic about his performance but was sure to note that he was the beneficiary of Booker and Durant’s other-worldly scoring throughout the series.
“Those guys are gonna draw a lot of attention,” Shamet said after the win via Wavey Hoops YouTube page.
“Book’s making unbelievable reads right now—seeing the defense and making the right play all the time. It’s just a matter of us on the back end of that play trying to convert.”