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Michael Malone had terrific quote after Nuggets beat Timberwolves in Game 4

Michael Malone smiling

Feb 5, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone on Sunday channeled his inner Rudy Tomjanovich after his team’s victory in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Nuggets beat the Timberwolves 115-107 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. The Nuggets’ win tied the series 2-2 after the team had lost the series’ first two contests in Denver.

During his postgame press conference, Malone was asked about what the Nuggets had “regained” over the last two games. Malone cited Tomjanovich’s memorable quote from when the former Houston Rockets coach led his team to a second NBA championship in 1995.

“Never underestimate the heart of a champion. They were quick to write us off. But these guys, we won a championship a year ago. We went into Miami [during the 2023 NBA Finals] and won two games in a row,” the Nuggets coach said.

“This team has been tested time and time again and we’ve found a way to solve whatever’s been thrown at us. … what I found about our group is they do believe in themselves and, more importantly, the man next to them.”

The 1994-95 Rockets famously defended their title after enduring one of the most grueling playoff runs in NBA history.

The sixth-seeded Rockets had to go through the four winningest teams in the regular season that year. The four teams — the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Orlando Magic — had an average regular season win total of 59.5 compared to the Rockets’ 47.

The Nuggets’ road to a repeat arguably isn’t as difficult as the gauntlet that the ’95 Rockets team had to go through. But Denver has certainly shown its championship mettle over the last two games.

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