PORTLAND, Ore. — At some point during Friday’s marathon Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic threw an elbow into Enes Kanter‘s injured left shoulder, to which Kanter took exception on social media after the game.
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 4, 2019
Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts on Saturday called the play by Jokic “uncalled-for” and that he “certainly didn’t approve of it.”
Stotts said he hasn’t heard if the league would review the play or not. The league routinely reviews plays after games and can retroactively assess technical or flagrant fouls if warranted.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone disagrees with Stotts.
“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 nonbasketball 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.”
Kanter played 56 minutes in the quadruple-overtime game despite dealing with a separated left shoulder that has caused him pain since he injured it in Game 5 of Portland’s first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kanter said after Friday’s game he thought he “separated my shoulder more,” and that he had to tuck his arm into his jersey because he couldn’t carry it. Kanter finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds as the Blazers took a 2-1 lead.
His status for Sunday’s Game 4 is unknown, though the Turkish big man has said he hopes to be ready to play. The Blazers didn’t hold a formal practice Saturday, and Stotts didn’t have an official update on Kanter’s status. He did say Kanter was at the practice facility getting treatment on his shoulder.
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