Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic not happy with Gary Payton II ‘butt slap’
The Serbian star was not in the mood for jokes on Monday night against Golden State and eventually got himself ejected
It seems the favorite for the MVP award this year was unhappy with more than just the result, as the the Nuggets faltered in Game 2
Nikola Jokic didn’t like Gary Payton II ‘butt slap’
On Monday night the Golden State Warriors took a further lead in their playoff series with the Denver Nuggets with a 126-106 win. On the other hand, what grabbed the most attention was not the fact that they now face a serious uphill battle heading into game 3, but actually the conflict that Nikola Jokic got himself involved in and then later on his eventual ejection.
Indeed, it started in the first first quarter, when the Warriors’ guard Gary Payton II blocked Jokic’s shot, giving Golden State the chance to start a counter attack of their own as the moved the ball down court in the opposite direction. The move ended in a 3-pointer and a subsequent timeout being called. Jokic was visibly not pleased, but to add further fuel to the fire, as the players walked to their respective benches the Warriors Gary Payton II hit Jokic on the butt, which the Serbian reacted very forcefully to. So much so in fact, that as he went to go after Payton the Serbian was actually restrained by Steph Curry and Jordan Poole.
Nikola Jokic clears the air on Gary Payton II
Post game Jokic was clear about where he stood on the situation involving Gary Payton II saying, “He doesn’t need to do that. I just reacted. No need to do that.” Yet had it been the only moment of vented frustration for Jokic perhaps things would have gone differently for the Nuggets, but unfortunately their star couldn’t keep his cool on the night. In the third quarter Jokic received a technical foul, after he slammed the ball on the court. His reaction came after he disagreed with being called for a personal foul on Andrew Wiggins.
To make matters worse, the Nuggets star was finally ejected for a second technical when he turned to scream at the referee for what he clearly believed was a missed call on the Warriors’ Draymond Green. Jokic was remorseful in his post game comments, but of course the damage was already done. “I mean, it’s pretty much everything. It is what it is. I’m not supposed to do that, and I’m not going to do that. I think I got fouled in the moment because I heard the slap. That’s why I just reacted.”
What next for Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets?
The unfortunate irony of the night is that Jokic actually had an impressive for the Nuggets with 26 points and 11 rebounds, making his ejection all the more hurtful to the Nuggets’ cause. The big man reflected on what lies ahead as they now face the task of having to win four or five games in order to make it to the next round. “Hopefully we can kind of find a better flow defensively and offensively,” Jokic said. “We had too many breakdowns. Sometimes we just score and they just literally dribble and pull up three, and we know that’s what they’re going to do. I think just probably be focused and just to get flow back that we usually play.”
As the Nuggets fly back home to Denver to prepare for Game 3 against the Warriors, they will have to be wondering whether or not their main man can once again shoulder the responsibility of carrying and inspiring the team to better. “I mean, I told the guys before we even go to the first game, we’re going to lose together, we’re going to win together,” Jokic said. “In my opinion I’m still with the guys and I’m still hopefully going to fight with them. For me we are not splintered.” With a 2-0 lead in the series, expect the Warriors to have a response to that on Thursday night.