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The Denver Nuggets lost 115-70 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Thursday night’s Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinals series — a 45-point defeat that surpassed their 44-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the 1985 WCF for the worst NBA playoff loss in franchise history.

Denver Nuggets become the first defending NBA champion to lose a playoff game by more than 36 points

Until yesterday’s blowout loss, no defending NBA champion had ever lost in the playoffs by more than 36 points. Minnesota outscored the Nuggets 31-14 in the first quarter and held Denver to just nine points in the final frame.

Denver’s 14 points in the opening quarter were tied for the second-lowest total in the league this postseason behind the Miami Heat (12 points) in a Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics in the first round.

“I think we shouldn’t. I think we need to let it sink in,” Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said when asked whether the team should bury its humiliating playoff defeat.

“It’s a great loss. They beat us. They destroyed us, and you should learn from it. We actually had them like 9-2, the score, right? It didn’t look good for them in that period. But since, it was a one-team show. … I’m going to take this as a great loss.”


Jokic led the Nuggets with 22 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. He finished 9-of-19 (47.4%) shooting from the field and missed all four 3-point attempts.

Furthermore, Denver became the first NBA team since the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016 against the San Antonio Spurs to score 70 points or fewer in a playoff game. The Nuggets’ 70 points are the fewest by any Denver team in the Jokic era.

The last time Denver was held to 70 points or less was in January 2015.

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray also struggled with 10 points on 4-of-18 (22.2%) shooting while dealing with a sore elbow. The seven-year veteran drained just two of his seven 3-point attempts (28.6%).

Game 6 was the eighth NBA playoff game ever to be won by at least 45 points

Denver’s bench was also outscored 36-9 in Game 6 — and seven of those points came in the final five minutes. Garbage time began at the start of the final period. The Wolves reserves led a 24-0 run in the fourth quarter on the way to a commanding 50-point lead.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves set a couple of playoff records of their own. It was the eighth NBA playoff game ever to be won by at least 45 points, and it was Minnesota’s largest playoff win in franchise history.

Additionally, no team had ever beaten the defending NBA champs by more than 36 points in the playoffs before Thursday night. Minnesota dropped at least 20 points on Denver in each of the four quarters.

Not to mention, the Timberwolves set a new franchise playoff record with 66 rebounds.

“We talked a lot today just about getting our edge back, our swagger, playing a little more free and easy,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “It just felt like we hadn’t had our best effort on both sides of the ball yet.”

Jokic has four Game 7 appearances in his nine-year career. The three-time MVP is 3-1 in those Game 7 outings, and he has averaged 24 points, 16 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in those elimination contests.

It will be the first time in NBA history that an MVP and DPOY face off in a Game 7.