Tim MacMahonESPN Staff WriterClose
- Joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009
- Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks
- Appears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM
SALT LAKE CITY — The Denver Nuggets dismissed the possibility of one-game suspensions for three key starters, including star center Nikola Jokic, due to leaving the bench area during a physical confrontation between Utah Jazz power forward Derrick Favors and Nuggets backup center Mason Plumlee.
Favors and Plumlee were both ejected after their exchange of shoves resulted in a scrum underneath the basket with 2:46 left in the first quarter of the Jazz’s 114-108 win Wednesday.
The NBA could determine that Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray violated the rule forbidding players not participating in the game from leaving the immediate vicinity of the bench during an altercation. Violators of the rule are automatically subjected to a one-game suspension and $50,000 fine.
“I think our assistant coaches made sure that nobody was on the court,” Denver coach Mike Malone said. “I have no doubts that our guys stayed where they were supposed to stay.”
Jokic got off the Nuggets’ bench and took several steps down the baseline toward the scrum. He did not step on the court or confront anyone before being pulled back by a Nuggets assistant. He seemed confused by a question about potential discipline from the league office.
“I was not on the court,” said Jokic, who had 28 points, 21 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss. “I mean, I cannot step? I was not even close. If they’re going to fine me, they’re going to fine me, but I did not do nothing.”
Harris and Murray also took steps down the baseline but did not go as far as Jokic.
“I didn’t do anything,” Harris said. “I took a couple of steps. I mean, it’s natural. The fans took a couple of steps. You see [something] like that going on, you obviously want to step up for your teammates. Obviously, it got pretty physical out there, so it was just a natural reaction to [want to] step in there and try to do something. But the guys on the court did a good job of breaking it up.”
The fracas occurred when Favors and Plumlee got tangled up under the basket. Favors hooked the arm of Plumlee, and they exchanged hard shoves after getting in each other’s faces. Several other players helped separate the two before any punches were thrown.
“It’s unfortunate that incident escalated the way it did,” Malone said. “Prior to that happening, from my vantage point you could see very clearly Derrick Favors pulling Mason’s arm. After that, it kind of just erupted. It would have been nice for that to be defused right when that happened, but that’s part of the NBA. It happens.”
The Nuggets’ next game is at home Friday against the Phoenix Suns.