David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Per Sean Keeler of the Denver Post, Jokic joked on Monday there’s a reason he will get whistled for fouls late in games.
“Yeah, sometimes I do that just to (expletive) Coach (Malone off),” he said.
The subject came up when a reporter informed Jokic his foul rate in the second half of games has dropped from 9.3 minutes in 2016-17 to 11.2 minutes this season.
Jokic has only fouled out of one game so far in 2018-19, on Dec. 28 against the San Antonio Spurs. By comparison, he fouled out of three games as a rookie during the 2015-16 campaign.
It’s perhaps not a coincidence Jokic’s decrease in soft fouls has occurred during the best season of his career. The 23-year-old is averaging 19.6 points, 7.7 assists and 10 rebounds per game to lead the Nuggets to the second-best record in the Western Conference entering Tuesday (31-14).
Given how important Jokic is to Denver’s success, Malone will happily give his star center a lot of leeway to foul whomever he wants as long as it doesn’t cost the team any games.