In the second playoff round of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Denver Nuggets lost 124:129 (2:2 in the “Best of 7” series) to the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Nikola Jokic made an outstanding game for the guests, but the talk was less about his 53 points and more about a situation at the end of the second quarter when he touched Suns owner Mat Ishbia and conceded a technical foul.
Suns pro Josh Okogie had previously tried to save a ball from being knocked out and fell into a group of spectators. Jokic then went for the ball quickly, which was then held by Ishbia and not released immediately. Instead, the ball flew even deeper into the crowd. Ishbia was touched by Jokic’s elbow in the melee. Another man who had bumped Jokic in the shoulder had to leave his seat.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone couldn’t understand the referee’s decision: “He just wanted to get the ball and some fan wanted to influence the game. He should just release the ball.” Of course, Malone knew full well who the fan was. He was probably bothered by the fact that different rules apply to team owners.
Jokic was also irritated. “The fan touched me first,” said the Serb. “I thought the league wanted to protect us. Maybe I’m wrong. I know who he is – but at the end of the day he’s a fan, isn’t he?”
The Philadelphia 76ers also managed to equalize the series 2-2 against the Boston Celtics in the fourth game. The squad around James Harden gave up a 16-point lead in the final quarter, but won by a razor-thin 116:115 after extra time.
The offensively outstanding Harden scored 42 points and scored the decisive basket with his last three 19 seconds before the end. Joel Embiid got 34 points. With the Celtics, Jayson Tatum was the most successful with 24 points. “I put in the work, it’s all about being aggressive,” said ten-time NBA All-Star Harden. “It gives us enormous self-confidence.”