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Nuggets star Jokic ejected in second quarter against Bulls

Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic - The Canadian Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Nikola Jokic chose his words carefully. At least he did after the game.

“I like my money so I'm not going to say whatever,” the two-time NBA MVP said.

Jokic was ejected in the second quarter of Denver's 114-106 victory at Chicago on Tuesday for the language he directed toward an official after he felt he was fouled on a layup attempt.

Jokic finished with four points, nine rebounds and six assists in Denver’s only scheduled visit to the United Center this season. After the 7-foot center was thrown out, the crowd of 20,775 seemed to register its displeasure with the decision by the officials.

“That's the first I've seen that. I've never seen that, when the opposing gym's been upset that the star player on the other team's been kicked out,” Nuggets guard Justin Holiday said. “Usually they're like ‘Yay,’ or booing the other player. But they were upset that he was getting kicked out."

Jokic protested after he missed a reverse layup with 1:12 left in the first half, saying something in the direction of a referee as he made his way back down the court. He was promptly whistled for a technical and thrown out by official Mousa Dagher.

“I crossed the line, but sometimes that word doesn’t cross the line,” Jokic said.

Jokic declined to get into further details because he wanted to avoid a fine by the NBA. Mark Lindsay, the crew chief for the referee crew, also was vague when asked about the exchange.

“We don’t typically publicly get into exactly what a player said, but the language reached the standard for an ejection,” Lindsay told a pool reporter.

Denver coach Michael Malone visited with the officials at halftime.

“I will not use that phrase that Nikola reportedly used,” Malone said. “But he just felt the language that was used warranted an objection. A one-(technical) ejection, which I was very shocked at. And when I heard what he said, I said I don’t understand the problem because when I grew up that was a term of endearment in my house.”

The 28-year-old Jokic also was ejected in the first half of a 107-103 victory at Detroit on Nov. 20. Asked if he was concerned about Jokic's relationship with the officials, Malone said he needs to do a better job of helping his star player.

“If he's getting fouled or he thinks he's getting fouled, let me take the (technical),” Malone said. “That's my job as a head coach, because I don't want him being put in that position where he is getting thrown out, because it's not good for him and more importantly, it's not good for the team.”

It was a tough blow for a short-handed Denver team that was coming off a 129-122 victory at Atlanta on Monday night. Jamal Murray was held out because of issues with his ankles, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn't play in the second half after he collided with Bulls center Nikola Vucevic earlier in the night.

Veteran center DeAndre Jordan said he made a suggestion to Jokic to help avoid any similar trouble in the future.

“I think next time it'll be a lot of Serbian curse words hopefully,” a grinning Jordan said.