Coming off four straight losses heading into Monday's game against the Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra knew something needed to change.

Ultimately, that change would be Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo falling out of the rotation entirely, playing zero combined minutes.

The Heat looked great with their new line-ups, which featured Max Strus slotting into a starting role, winning each of the first three quarters comfortably on the way to a 123-100 victory.

Speaking to post-game media, Spoelstra made a point of protecting his benched players' feelings, and stressed that more tinkering would be ahead.

"These are tough decisions, and there are a lot of different things that could work, but we just felt like at this particular time that these moves may clean up some things with the rotation," he said.

"Those aren't easy decisions, and I think we all just have to have empathy and grace for some of these changes for the guys that didn't necessarily play tonight.

"It's about understanding that we have a roster full of proven, capable guys, and we're going to need everybody, particularly in this final push and in the playoffs.

"A lot of it will be matchup-based… we'll just keep an open mind about what we may need to do moving forward."

Spoelstra went on to say that the difference in this game was about far more than simply benching two solid players.

"This wasn't a 'one move' thing – we were very disappointed about the past four games, and this has been trending, really, even before that, when we were winning," he said.

"It's not an indictment on anybody – sometimes these things can be chemistry things, sometimes it's just the flow of certain guys playing off of each other.

"The ball and body movement was better – less holding [the ball], we're moving the ball, guys were able to play to their strengths. It was less stagnant for sure.

"We've seen what Jimmy [Butler] can do when he has open spaces to be able to be creative, and be able to attack, and be able to make plays. I know he hit three three-pointers tonight – I love that – but he was in a lot of places where he can be successful and effective.

"There were a lot of different layers to [today's moves] – again, it's just one game. Our roster is deep, and our roster checks a lot of different boxes, which we feel you need in the playoffs.

"Each series – if we're fortunate enough to play multiple series – they have totally different needs and complexions, and we feel like versatility and our depth is really one of the greatest strengths of this team."

Miami regained the Eastern Conference one seed with the result, but it will switch hands once again if they cannot defeat the surging Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

The NBA has suspended Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic for one game for "forcefully shoving" the Miami Heat's Markieff Morris on Monday. 

Morris was fined $50,000 for a Flagrant 2 foul that precipitated the incident, which saw both players ejected from the game. The Nuggets went on to win 113-96.

Miami's Jimmy Butler also was fined $30,000 for "attempting to escalate the altercation" and refusing to submit to an interview with NBA security as it investigated the matter. 

Jokic reacted angrily when Morris came in with a hard foul at midcourt with 2:39 to play in the game, catching his opponent with a left elbow to the chest.

Last season's NBA MVP charged after Morris and responded with a right forearm shove to the back, sending the Heat player crashing heavily to the court.

Both teams' coaching staffs sprang from their benches to try and restore order along with the referees. 

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "very dangerous, dirty play" by Jokic, who expressed regret following the game. 

"It's a stupid play. I feel bad. I am not supposed to react that way," Jokic told reporters. "... I just needed to protect myself. I felt bad. I am not supposed to react that way, but I need to protect myself."

Jokic will have to sit out Denver's game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. 

Nikola Jokic said "I need to protect myself" but admits he regrets the "stupid play" that saw him ejected for a violent shove on Markieff Morris in the Denver Nuggets' 113-96 win over the Miami Heat.

League MVP Jokic reacted angrily when Morris came in with a hard foul midcourt, catching his opponent with a left elbow to the chest.

Jokic furiously chased Morris down and responded with a right forearm shove to the back, sending the Heat star crashing heavily to the court.

A suspension and fine could now be on the cards for Jokic, who later rued his moment of madness.

"It's a stupid play. I feel bad. I am not supposed to react that way," he told reporters. 

"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."

He 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."

It poses a potential dilemma for Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, who was without the already injured Jamal Murray on Monday, while Michael Porter Jr. was absent with a lower back issue.

If Jokic is suspended as well, the Nuggets could be without their three best players when they face the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

"I will concern myself when they tell us he's suspended," Malone said. 

"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."

Jokic's indiscretion came with just two minutes and 39 seconds remaining in a game where he had produced a triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra labelled Jokic's retaliation as "uncalled for".

"That was a very dangerous and dirty play," he said. 

"Keef took a foul, and it was one of those fastbreak-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."

The Nuggets moved to 6-4 with the win to sit sixth in the Western Conference, while the 7-3 Heat are second in the east.

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