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Nuggets coach Michael Malone speaks out on Nikola Jokic’s ejection, officiating

Nuggets, Nikola Jokic

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has addressed the recent concern for Nikola Jokic’s intensified emotion over foul calls (or lack thereof) on the basketball court.

Jokic, 24, was ejected from Sunday’s 95-90 loss to the Washington Wizards after arguing a no-call late in the game with referee James Capers. The play involved Wizards forward Bobby Portis clinging onto Jokic’s back on a put-back layup.

“No matter what’s going on — and let’s be honest, it was a blatant foul, it was a two-hand slap in the back; I’m not sure how three referees missed that —nothing is going to make it OK for Nikola to get thrown out of a game,” Malone told Nick Kosmider of The Athletic.

Nikola Jokic is unquestionably among the Nuggets’ star assets, averaging 20.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 7.4 assists in his fourth NBA season. His occasional flare-ups with officials have led Michael Malone and Denver astray during games.

The Serbian center has promised to work on his temper though, especially as the team moves toward postseason action. However, he isn’t allowing it to stop him from saying something just for the sake of appeasing the NBA.

Entering Tuesday’s highly anticipated showdown with the Warriors, the Nuggets are 51-25 and a game behind the top-seeded champions atop the Western Conference standings.