Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, the reigning N.B.A. most valuable player, was ejected from a game against the Miami Heat on Monday night after shoving Markieff Morris to the floor. Morris was also ejected for precipitating the incident with a hard foul of his own.
The fouls are the kind that often invite suspensions from the league but no action has been taken. With less than two minutes to go in a 113-96 victory for the Nuggets in Denver, Morris barged firmly into Jokic as he was making a pass.
Jokic responded by giving Morris a forearm to the back, sending him to the floor. The incident prompted the gathering of a scrum of disputatious players and team personnel at center court that eventually broke up without serious incident.
Morris remained down for several minutes, and a stretcher was brought out, but he left the floor under his own power. The team said he had a neck injury.
“He’s moving around in the locker room right now,” Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game. “We’ll do the necessary tests and do what we need to do make sure he’s OK.”
With both players were ejected, Jimmy Butler of the Heat got a technical foul after shouting at Jokic on the Denver bench.
“It’s a stupid play,” Jokic told reporters after the game. “I feel bad. I am not supposed to react that way, but I need to protect myself.”
Morris was unavailable for comment after the game. “That was a very dangerous and dirty play,” Spoelstra told reporters of Jokic’s shove. “That’s just absolutely uncalled for.”
Jokic had 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the game for his first triple double of the season. He is in the top 20 in all three categories this season as well as steals, and is an early candidate to repeat as MVP.
Jokic has made his share of aggressive, and over-aggressive, plays in his career. In Game 4 of last season’s conference semifinals against the Suns, he smacked Cameron Payne across the face when going for the ball. He was ejected, and the Nuggets went on to lose to the Suns, who completed a four-game sweep. Jokic had 10 technical fouls last season, ranking him 11th in the league.
The Nuggets improved to 6-4 on Monday night. The Heat, with Butler continuing his late-career renaissance at 25 points per game, are 7-3.