DETROIT Pistons announcers defended Nikola Jokic after the two-time NBA MVP exited the Denver Nuggets’ 107-103 win.
The Nuggets star was ejected from the game after drawing two technicals for questioning their calls.
The second tech came when the 28-year-old Jokic went off to say he had been fouled twice on a play late in the second quarter.
Marvin Bagley III initially collided with the Serbian big man on a post-up attempt, causing him to protest while still holding the ball.
The 6-foot-11 NBA center was then sandwiched by Bagley and Isaiah Stewart and dropped the ball, which bounced off the Pistons players and went out of bounds.
Visibly angry, Jokic then approached the referees, took out his mouthguard and aggressively yelled at them because they hadn’t called a foul in the game.
And the tantrum led to his second tech and ejection, with head coach Michael Malone previously ejected for similar behavior.
But Pistons announcers George Blaha and Greg Kelser sympathized with Jokic, claiming the referees were enjoying the spotlight a little too much.
Blaha listed members of the game’s refereeing team and said, “Let me tell you this: These fans didn’t come here to see Curtis Blair, Tre Maddox or Andy Nagy, whoever they are.”
And Kessler added: “You know, I felt the same way when Giannis Antetokounmpo got thrown off the court in Milwaukee for some kind of flexion after a dunk.”
With the Nuggets still picking up a win and moving to 10-4 on the season, Malone appeared to be in good spirits after the game, even though he and Jokic were ejected that same night.
He even joked that he and the Denver star watched most of the match together from the locker room.
“I think Nikola was concerned about my well-being,” Malone said.
“It’s hard watching a game on TV – we hugged each other on good plays and I cursed in Serbian on bad ones.”
Denver’s role players stepped up in Jokic’s absence as five Nuggets finished the night in double figures, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scoring a team-high 21 points.
On the Pistons’ side, Cade Cunningham scored a game-high 27 points and added nine rebounds and three steals.