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Denver Nuggets fall to Timberwolves in Game 7, season ends in disappointing fashion

Bill Hanzlik would like to see the Denver Nuggets improve their bench
Bill Hanzlik would like to see the Denver Nuggets improve their bench 03:58

The Denver Nuggets fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves by a score of 98-90 at Ball Arena on Sunday in Game 7. They were hoping to be only the sixth NBA team to come back in the playoffs in a seven-game series when they were down 0-2 following losses at home in the first two games. It didn't happen, and now Denver's season is over.

Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets holds Karl-Anthony Towns (32) of the Minnesota Timberwolves at bay during the second quarter at Ball Arena in Denver on Sunday, May 19, 2024. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Nuggets became the fifth consecutive defending champion to fail to reach the conference finals. Behind Jamal Murray's 24 first-half points, the Nuggets raced to a 53-38 halftime lead and Murray's 3-pointer with 10:50 left in the third pushed Denver's lead to 58-38.

Then the Wolves turned to their defense, the NBA's stingiest, to get back into the game, and they closed the quarter on a 28-9 run to pull to 67-66 heading into the fourth.

Rudy Gobert gave the Wolves their first lead since the first quarter with a bucket to start the fourth and when Karl-Anthony Towns picked up his fifth foul, Naz Reid, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, helped keep Minnesota ahead. In one crucial stretch that started with Minnesota ahead 85-82, Reid had two free throws and a dunk before feeding Edwards for a back-breaking 3-pointer that put the Wolves ahead 92-82 with three minutes left.

Murray, coming off a 4-for-18 shooting performance in the Nuggets' 115-70 loss in Game 6 -- the largest ever in the playoffs by a reigning champion -- led Denver with 35 points. Jokic added 34 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before tipoff he didn't think Game 7 would be a blowout after the ones delivered in Games 2, 3 and 6. He figured it would come down to the wire, but "maybe not because this is one of the strangest series I've ever been a part of."

The Nuggets' big blown lead only added to the oddity of the series.

The Wolves will now face the Dallas Mavericks in the next round.

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