Nikola Jokic's Game 4 ended early after the Denver Nuggets center was ejected late in the third quarter.
The recently crowned MVP was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul - his first in the past three seasons - with 3:52 remaining in the period and his team trailing 83-75.
Jokic swiped at Suns guard Cameron Payne, catching him across the face as he attempted to steal the ball, with Jokic and Devin Booker exchanging words as the pair had to be separated by teammates.
"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 said post-game. "Did I hit him, did I not hit him? We don't know. So I say sorry if I did because I did not want to injure him or hit him in the head on purpose."
Jokic got ejected after this hard foul on Payne 😯 pic.twitter.com/EvG1Dfvuub- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 14, 2021
With the officials deeming it 'unnecessary and excessive contact', Jokic was ejected from the game, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
"I thought honestly they would not eject me," Jokic said.
The Nuggets made a late rally in the fourth quarter, before going down 125-118 as Jokic became just the fifth MVP ever to be swept in a playoff series, joining Magic Johnson, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wes Unseld.
"I just didn't feel like it warranted a flagrant 2 ejection because he's making a play on the ball," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "There's marginal contact to Cameron Payne's nose I believe. So I was shocked. I'm still a little bit shocked that they called a flagrant 2 and ejected the MVP on such a play."
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