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Brothers of NBA players Nikola Jokic and Markieff Morris exchange words on Twitter after Heat-Nuggets scuffle

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Emotions from NBA MVP Nikola Jokic‘s retaliatory bodycheck from behind on Miami Heat forward Markieff Morris on Monday night have spilled onto social media as the brothers of both players weighed in.

As the league looks into whether to levy any further punishment over the Denver Nuggets star’s ejection after his run-in with Morris with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter during the Nuggets’ 113-96 win over the Heat, LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris, Markieff’s twin brother, chimed in on Twitter.

Marcus Morris intimated that Jokic shoving his brother from behind was shady and that he will remember it.

“Waited till bro turned his back smh. NOTED,” Marcus Morris tweeted Monday night with an emoji of a pen in hand.

That prompted Jokic’s brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja, to open a Twitter account named “@JokicBrothers” to respond to Marcus Morris, The Denver Post reported.

The new account tweeted: “You should leave this the way it is instead of publicly threatening our brother! Your brother made a dirty play first. If you want to make a step further be sure we will be waiting for you !! Jokic Brothers.”

Nikola Jokic faces the likely possibility of a suspension after he took exception to a foul by Markieff Morris. Jokic rebounded the ball and was bringing it downcourt when he passed the ball near midcourt. The Heat forward, trying to stop play, gave a hard foul with his left elbow to Jokic’s exposed right side as the center was delivering an overhead pass. As Morris walked away, an irate Jokic took a couple of steps and delivered a hard right forearm shove with his weight behind him to Morris’ back, sending the Heat forward flying hard toward the floor.

Morris was assessed a flagrant foul 2, and Jokic was ejected.

“That was a very dangerous and dirty play,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to reporters after the game. “Keef took a foul, and it was one of those fast-break-take fouls and he did with his shoulder. You might deem that maybe as a little bit more than just slapping somebody, but after watching it on film, it was a take foul. That’s how I saw it. And the play after that’s just absolutely uncalled for.”

Jokic left with a triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. The reigning MVP said that he felt the need to protect himself but that he felt bad later after seeing how hard he shoved Morris in the back.

“It’s a stupid play,” Jokic told reporters after the game. “I feel bad. I am not supposed to react that way … I thought it was going to be a take foul … I think it was a dirty play. And I just needed to protect myself. I felt bad, I am not supposed to react that way, but I need to protect myself.”

Jokic later added: “I don’t know who showed me the clip, and actually his head snapped back [after the shove], so I feel really bad… It’s a bad move.”

The Nuggets, already without injured Jamal Murray, were playing without Michael Porter Jr. due to a lower back injury. Denver could potentially be without its top three players for Wednesday’s game against Indiana.

“I will concern myself when they tell us he’s suspended,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said when asked about a possible suspension for Jokic. “I am not going to waste any of my time looking into my crystal ball and my tea leaves. I don’t have any of that. He’s available until they tell me he’s not. And I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be available Wednesday night.”

Spoelstra said Morris was OK after the hard foul and was moving around in the locker room.

“This whole thing could have been a whole lot uglier if Markieff was actually facing Jokic,” Spoelstra said. “The fact that he had his back turned and he made a play like that, blindsiding him, just a very dangerous play.”

The altercation resulted in both coaching staffs and the officials trying to keep the peace. As Jokic sat on the bench while things were still being sorted out on the court, emotions were running high as Miami’s Jimmy Butler shouted toward the Nuggets and had to be held back.

“The video and picture is worth a thousand words,” Spoelstra added when asked about the mood of the Heat players after the incident.



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Coach Tom Thibodeau removes struggling Kemba Walker from New York Knicks’ rotation

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New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters Monday afternoon that he is removing guard Kemba Walker from not only the team’s starting lineup but also the rotation as a whole, beginning with Tuesday’s showdown with the crosstown-rival Nets in Brooklyn.

“It’s a tough decision to make, but you always have to do what you think is best for the team,” Thibodeau said after practice Monday in explaining his decision. “I view Kemba as a starter, and so it’d be tough to play three small guards together. I gave it consideration, and I’ve got great respect for who Kemba is as a person and all he’s accomplished in this league.

“But I have to do what I think is best for the team.”

In this case, Thibodeau decided that meant benching Walker in favor of Alec Burks. Walker, a four-time All-Star and New York City basketball legend, returned home this past summer on a two-year, $20 million deal after being bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder following a trade from the Boston Celtics.

After seeing Burks go for 23 points in 39 minutes in Saturday’s win in Atlanta over the Hawks — a game Walker didn’t play in after scoring 17 points in New York’s loss to the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden the night before — Thibodeau has opted to put him in the starting five moving forward.

“I want to tighten the rotation. I liked the way the team functioned, so it will be similar to what we did in the Atlanta game.”

Walker, 31, is averaging career lows across the board, including points (11.1), rebounds (2.6), assists (3.1), field goal attempts per game (9.8) and minutes (24.5). After a hot start to the season, his numbers have tailed off dramatically, as he averaged 10 points on 39% shooting overall — and 29% from 3-point range — through 12 games in November.

Meanwhile, New York’s starting lineup has simply not worked. Entering Monday night’s action, the team’s typical starting lineup — Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson — is the NBA’s most-used five-man lineup, logging 287 minutes. It has also been outscored by 15.6 points per 100 possessions in those minutes, and has what would be the NBA’s worst defensive rating (118.9). Individually, the Knicks are being outscored when Walker is on the court by 13 points per 100 possessions, and are outscoring teams by 11 points per 100 possessions when he isn’t.

Walker spent the past two seasons in Boston after the Celtics signed him to a four-year max contract in 2019 to replace Kyrie Irving once the latter left to sign his own max deal with the Nets. After making the All-Star team his first season and helping Boston reach the Eastern Conference finals with strong play in series victories over the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors along the way, Walker struggled with knee issues last season, missing 29 games in the regular season and the final two games of Boston’s five-game loss to Brooklyn in the first round.

In his first significant move as president of the franchise, former coach Brad Stevens chose to trade Walker to the Thunder, along with the No. 16 pick in July’s NBA draft, to bring center Al Horford back to Boston. Horford has seamlessly fit right into Boston’s lineup, particularly with starting center Robert Williams missing chunks of multiple games with various injuries early on this season.

Walker, on the other hand, eventually agreed to a buyout with the Thunder, allowing him to return home to New York to play a smaller role with his hometown team. But after being benched down the stretch repeatedly over the past several weeks, along with other members of the starting lineup, as New York’s bench has consistently outperformed it, Thibodeau decided Monday to take things a step further.

The Knicks are currently 11-9, putting them in the middle of the tightly bunched Eastern Conference standings. New York is three games behind the East-leading Nets and one ahead of the 76ers in 11th.

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Blake Griffin, out of Brooklyn Nets’ rotation, preaches patience, knows ‘that’s not my decision’

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NEW YORK — Falling completely out of the Brooklyn Nets‘ rotation was not something Blake Griffin saw coming.

After starting 17 games this season, Griffin has sat the past two games after Steve Nash inserted LaMarcus Aldridge into the starting lineup.

“No, I mean listen, [Aldridge] has been playing unbelievable,” Griffin said. “So, I totally get starting him, especially Joe [Harris] has been out, and I totally get that.

“Being completely out of it, though, I didn’t necessarily see that coming. But that’s not my decision. As players it’s our job to do whatever coaches see best, so at this point that’s what it is.”

Griffin, a six-time All-Star, was averaging a career-low 5.5 points to go with 4.9 rebounds while shooting just 16.1% from behind the 3-point arc. The power forward is shooting a career-low 31.8% overall from the field. Last season with the Pistons and Nets, Griffin averaged 11 points, 4.9 rebounds, 42.3% shooting overall and 34.1% 3-point shooting.

“Well, I feel for him,” Nash said. “That’s not easy. You know it’s tough when you go through a rough stretch of play and the world kind of caves in on you a little bit. I’ve been there and understand it. We have to give other guys an opportunity at this point, but Blake’s had a great attitude. I really admire him for being positive through this and keeping himself ready so if his opportunity comes back, he can have an impact.”

With Harris out for potentially four to eight weeks after he will undergo ankle surgery, the Nets need more shooting around Kevin Durant and James Harden. Aldridge has been one of the Nets’ best players this season, averaging 13.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 58% shooting from the field in just 22.1 minutes per game.

Griffin said he has been in touch with some of his former teammates, including DeAndre Jordan, since Nash’s decision. Jordan started the season as a starter before losing his spot in the starting five early last season.

“I have seen [and] have had great examples,” Griffin said. “DeAndre last year, he is a guy that I talked to that reached out. A lot of the guys from last year reached out. He did a really great job with it. I told him that. That is how I am going to try to do it as well.

“Just be a professional and do exactly what you are supposed to do,” Griffin added of what message his former teammates told him. “It may sound like not good advice, but in this situation, everybody always needs to hear the right thing.”

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Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris to undergo ankle surgery, out 4-8 weeks, agent says

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris will undergo surgery on his injured left ankle and is expected to miss four to eight weeks, with optimism he can return on the shorter end of that timeline, Harris’ agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Nets head coach Steve Nash said Harris’ surgery will address “a little bone particle” in the ankle and hopefully allow the shooter to move forward from the injury. Harris has missed the last six games since injuring his ankle in a win at Oklahoma City on Nov. 14.

“He is going to have a scope and then we’ll see what that means once they’ve had the procedure,” Nash said after Nets practice. “We think this is a really positive thing that can put this situation behind him long term rather than risking reoccurrences or uncertainty with the injury.”

Harris is averaging 11.3 points and shooting 46.6% from behind the 3-point arc this season.

“There’s a little bone particle in there,” Nash said. “Just the uncertainty of it, just better to take it out. We thought that it would potentially sort itself out because it’s been there but it’s not. Hopefully that’s the end of it.”

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