Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic was assessed a technical foul in the second quarter of Game 4 on Sunday after an altercation with Phoenix Suns owner Matt Ishbia.

Late in the second quarter, Suns guard Josh Okogie crashed into the seats trying to save a loose ball. He landed in a group of fans on the baseline that included Ishbia, who grabbed a basketball.

Jokic was trying to get the basketball quickly — apparently so the Nuggets could start an offensive possession — when he tried to take the ball away from Ishbia. The ball bounced back into the crowd before Isbia was elbowed back by Jokic.

Jokic was unapologetic after the game, which the Suns won 129-124.

“The fan put his hand on me first,” Jokic said. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I’m wrong. I know who he is, but he’s a fan. Isn’t that right?

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said: “(Jokic) is going to get the ball and some fan is holding onto the ball like he wants to be in the game. Just pass the ball, man.’

There was a few minutes of confusion as the officials sorted out the strange scene, and then Jokic was called for a technical foul. The Suns made the ensuing free throw.

Suns star Devin Booker — who had 36 points and 12 assists — said he knew Ishbia was at the center of the altercation.

“He got us a point!” Booker said with a smile.

Ishbia told The Associated Press at halftime that he was “fine” and more worried about the game than the altercation. In the second half, he returned to his usual places. The scrimmage didn’t seem to bother Jokic either, with the MVP runner-up scoring 53 points on 20-of-30 shooting.

Ishbia had been the owner of the Suns for just a few months, buying the team from the struggling Robert Sarver. In December, Ishiba purchased the Suns and Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA for 4 billion dollars.

Game 5 is Tuesday in Denver. In each series, two games are tied.

Under normal circumstances, a fan involved in such an incident would normally have been ejected CBS Sports. What’s less clear is what the NBA will do in the event of a player-owner incident. At the very least, it’s likely the league will consider a possible penalty for Ishbia, who disrupted the game by denying Jokic the ball.

Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic (15) rushes to retrieve the game ball as Phoenix Suns owner Matt Ishbia gets in on the action, clutching the ball and helping Josh Okogie (2) up after Okogie flew into the stands during Game 2 . quarter at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Sunday, May 7, 2023.

AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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