The Denver Nuggets lost their head coach and their MVP in the first half Monday night. That wasn’t enough to get the Detroit Pistons a win.
Nikola Jokic got his second technical foul of the first half and was ejected from the Pistons-Nuggets game just over a minute before halftime. The two-time MVP finished with nine points, five rebounds and five assists, after what could only be considered a soft ejection – his first technical came when he told the referees to “Wake up!”
It’s possible that Jokic got tossed out of solidarity with Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who picked up two technicals in quick succession in the first quarter. He argued the call like a man who knew he was going to get thrown out of the game, not even breaking stride on his way from the bench into the tunnel.
After the game, Malone admitted that it was hard to watch the rest of the game, a close one Denver had to come from behind in the final three minutes to win, 107-103.
“We were hugging on good plays and I was cursing in Serbian on the bad ones,” Malone told reporters after the game.
Detroit lost its 12th straight game after starting the season 2-1. The Pistons haven’t won since October 28. But Pistons announcer George Blaha was most upset with the officials for denying Detroit fans the chance to see Jokic in his one annual trip to the Motor City.
“These fans did not come here to see Curtis Blair, Tre Maddox or Andy Nagy (the three game officials), whoever they are,” Blaha said. He added that Jokic was complaining after the referees missed a clear foul, which was also the case with Jokic’s first technical.
So Detroit fans had to watch their team drop their 12th straight, without the consolation of watching Jokic play basketball. Their team let the fans down, but Blair, Maddox and Nagy let them down more. Whoever they are.