NBA Playoffs 2019: Blazers coach calls elbow from Nuggets' Nikola Jokic to Enes Kanter's injured shoulder 'uncalled for'

The Portland Trail Blazers secured a historic victory on Friday night, taking down the Denver Nuggets, 140-137, in quadruple-overtime to earn a 2-1 series lead. But their big man, Enes Kanter, wasn't focused on celebrating after the win.

Once again dealing with the pain of his separated shoulder, which he re-injured during Game 3, Kanter also took to social media to complain about some physical play from his Nuggets counterpart, Nikola Jokic. At 3 a.m. ET, Kanter posted a clip of Jokic delivering an elbow to his chest and injured left shoulder during a box-out attempt on a free throw. 

"Take a freaking look at this please @OfficialNBARefs @NBAOfficial," Kanter wrote. 

When asked about the play on Saturday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts agreed, saying it was "uncalled for" and adding that he "certainly didn't approve of it."

In what should come as little surprise though, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone came to his star man's defense. Via ESPN:

"Normal play," Malone said. "I think Terry is off base there. Personally, I don't think it was anything malicious. Just like some of their screens in the first two games, I don't think there was anything malicious to it -- with Kanter getting tossed into Torrey Craig. This is the playoffs. We're all big boys, let's go out and play the game accordingly.

"I have known Nikola Jokic for four years," Malone said. "He doesn't have that kind of personality, he doesn't have that DNA gene where he's going to go out there and make non-basketball plays and try to hurt anybody or do anything that is beyond the limits of what is sportsmanship and what is not sportsmanship. So I would definitely not agree with Terry's assessment."

As Malone referenced in his quote, there have already been a few incidents in this series in which things have been physical and even verged on altercation. During Game 2, Craig took a hard, but accidental elbow from Zach Collins that left him bloodied. Then later in the game, after he had returned wearing a protective mask, Craig was once again rocked, this time by Kanter. 

That caused a bit of a scene, as Nuggets players arrived to confront Kanter for the play. But as the replays showed, Kanter was clearly pushed by Jokic, which forced him into Craig. During that confrontation, fans also got into the act by fighting in the stands and were ejected. 

Now, as we've seen from Kanter and Stotts, the Blazers feel things are going a bit too far. At this point, it's unclear if the league will review the incident Kanter brought attention to, or whether Jokic will face any punishment. But it does seem reasonable that the league and the refs will make a point to pay close attention to this matchup moving forward so nothing goes overboard. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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