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Jokic ejected from Game 4 loss after hard swipe at Suns' Payne

AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images / Denver Post / Getty

With his Denver Nuggets staring down elimination at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, Nikola Jokic was ejected for only the fourth time in his career.

Officials assessed the recently named MVP a flagrant-2 foul midway through the third quarter of Sunday's Game 4 for striking Cameron Payne while attempting to dislodge the ball.

Jokic and Suns star Devin Booker faced off in the aftermath, forcing their teammates to intervene.

Booker received a flagrant-1 foul for the sequence.

The ejection was Jokic's first since March 2019. The 26-year-old center finished the game with 22 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and one block in 28 minutes.

"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," Jokic reasoned postgame, according to ESPN's Royce Young. "Did I hit him, did I not hit him? We don't know. So I say sorry if I did."

The Nuggets trailed 83-75 at the time of the incident and went on to lose 125-118.

Phoenix will face either the Utah Jazz or the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference finals. Utah currently boasts a 2-1 series lead.

Jokic ejected from Game 4 loss after hard swipe at Suns' Payne
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