The Denver Nuggets lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series, 98-90. It was a hard fought series with Minnesota rallying to win the last two games en route to eliminating the defending champions led by coach Michael Malone. The Nuggets held a double-digit lead in the second half of Game 7, but the Wolves managed to chip away while shutting down Denver’s offense.

After the game, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was frustrated and was particularly irked with a question about surrendering that double-digit lead, saying:

“Next question, man. The season’s over, that’s what’s hard,” Malone said. “F*** being up 20. The season’s over, you don’t understand that. It’s hard, the season is over. Stupid a** questions.”

Not only did the Nuggets choke, the collapsed fundamentally in the second half. The question to Malone is valid considering the Wolves became the first team to win a Game 7 when trailing by 15+ points at the half.

There are a number of factors that led to Denver’s demise this season, chief among them lack of bench depth. Nearly every starter logged more minutes this season than in the previous, championship, season. No major additions were made to the roster, and the Nuggets looked gassed by the time the NBA Playoffs rolled around.

Michael Malone just completed his ninth full season as Nuggets head coach. He helped lead the franchise to their first title in 2023, and is the only head coach stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have ever played for in the NBA. Malone holds himself, and the team, to high standards, so his frustration is not a surprise after the disappointing outcome in the pivotal Game 7. It will be interesting to see what, if any, moves the Nuggets decide to make during the offseason in attempt to win another NBA title.