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Nuggets' Nikola Jokic 'feels bad' for Markieff Morris hit, Heat critical of 'dirty' play

Nuggets' Nikola Jokic 'feels bad' for Markieff Morris hit, Heat critical of 'dirty' play
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (pictured) was ejected for a technical foul late in a win over the Miami Heat on Monday in Denver. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic said he "feels bad" for his blindside hit on forward Markieff Morris during a Denver Nuggets win over the Miami Heat. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called the play "dirty" in his postgame comments.

Jokic hit Morris with about 2:39 remaining in the Nuggets' 113-96 victory Monday at Ball Arena in Denver. He was given a technical foul and ejected for the incident.

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"It was a stupid play," Jokic told reporters. "I feel bad. I'm not supposed to react that way."

The Nuggets led 111-94 when Jokic brought the ball up the court in transition. He went to send a pass past half court when Morris ran in to defend. Morris undercut Jokic as the ball left his hands, putting his left elbow into Jokic's ribs.

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Morris was given a flagrant foul for the infraction. Jokic then ran toward Morris as the Heat forward looked the opposite direction.

The 6-foot-11, 284-pound Nuggets center pulled back his right arm and hit the 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward in the back, sending him flying to the ground.

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"I thought it was a little bit over the edge, that's why I reacted," Jokic said of Morris' foul, which he said prompted his blindside hit.

Morris stayed on the ground for a few minutes before Heat trainers ran on to check his status. Heat and Nuggets players met in a scuffle near half court.

Referees separated the teams and ejected Jokic. Heat forward Jimmy Butler also received a technical foul for his role in the scuffle, but he was not ejected.

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"Obviously we wanted to make sure Markieff was and is OK," Spoelstra told reporters. "That was a very dangerous and dirty play. I thought Markieff [committed] a foul and it was one of those fastbreak, take fouls with his shoulder.

"The play after [by Jokic], that was abovsouly uncalled for. This whole thing could have been a whole lot uglier if Markieff was actually facing Jokic.

"The fact that he had his back turned and he made a play like that, blindsiding him, that's just a very dangerous play."

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Jokic scored 25 points and totaled 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the victory. Guard Will Barton also chipped in 25 points for the Nuggets. Morris scored 10 points for the Heat.

Butler led the Heat with 31 points and eight assists. Heat center Bam Adebayo totaled 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Spoelstra said Morris was "moving around OK" after the game, but the veteran forward will get additional tests. The Heat said Morris injured his neck during the sequence.

"Somebody showed me the clip and his head snapped back, that's why I felt bad," Jokic said of Morris.

The Nuggets led by as many as 23 points in the victory. They outscored the Heat 50-26 in the paint and 16-15 off fast breaks.

The Heat (7-3) face the Los Angeles Lakers (6-5) at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Nuggets (6-4) host the Indiana Pacers (4-7) at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday at Ball Arena.

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