MIAMI — Another interaction with Miami Heat forward Markieff Morris took another chunk out of a Denver Nuggets player's paycheck.
The second run-in — during Monday’s 120-111 win over the Heat — was a lot more innocent than the first one on Nov. 8, when Morris committed a hard foul in the open court on Denver star Nikola Jokic, who returned fire with a forceful shove through the back of Miami’s veteran and earned a one-game suspension.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland said after Monday’s win. “I’ve known him since I was little, him and Marcus Morris.”
So, when Hyland found himself open and hit a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Heat bench in the fourth quarter, he turned to his old friend, pointed at him and said “You know that, Kieff.” The bucket capped off Hyland’s new career-high 19 points, which included a 5-of-8 mark from 3-point range and a technical foul for the friendly taunt.
“It’s killing me, because I’m an emotional player — but in a good way,” Hyland explained. “That’s how I always play, which is getting the crowd into it, the fans, teammates, et cetera, et cetera. I didn’t even say anything crazy.”
Hyland’s hometown, Wilmington, Del., is roughly 30 miles from Philadelphia, where the Morris twins grew up. Denver’s rookie said he checked in on Markieff Morris, who hasn’t played since the first meeting due to whiplash, after each of the two games between the two teams.
While the technical was just the result of some jovial ribbing, Jokic did not appear to appreciate the end result — a free point for the Heat — as the Nuggets were trying to put the game out of reach in the final seven minutes.
“Maybe it’s nothing, but still, we don’t need that, because I think we could close the game in the next two minutes,” Jokic said. “We just give them an opportunity to basically score four or maybe five points.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone used it as an opportunity to make a joke at his impressive rookie’s expense.
“They played a lot of zone in that second half, which allowed some of those 3s to happen,” Malone said of Hyland’s hot shooting night.
“He didn’t even force the issue at times. He made the right play. He’s got range. He can get to the basket. He’s got a really good handle. He’s just got to stay away from those fourth-quarter technical fouls.”
With the technical likely comes the customary $2,000 reduction from Hyland’s paycheck.
“(I) can’t keep getting money taken out my bank account,” Hyland joked.
“I’m just an emotional player. I’m not going to stop (being) who I am, because at the end of the day, that made me who I am, and it got me to this point. I just got to know when to do it and when to not.”