Denver (36-34) at Minnesota (47-22)

  • Game info: 4:00 pm EST Sun Mar 21, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Wally Szczerbiak has kept his focus, and the Minnesota Timberwolves have benefited in their push for a top playoff spot.

With their postseason chances in doubt, the Denver Nuggets need Carmelo Anthony to do the same.

Szczerbiak comes off his best game of the season to lead the Timberwolves against Anthony and the struggling Nuggets at the Target Center.

Szczerbiak had a season-high 24 points, and Latrell Sprewell scored all 16 of his points in the second half to lead Minnesota to a 93-80 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday.

Szczerbiak, who missed the first 53 games of the season because of a left foot injury, was 8-of-13 from the floor in 30 minutes. He hit three of his team-high four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

“It was just nice to miss a few shots and not feel like I was going to get pulled right away,” Szczerbiak said. “I’m the kind of player when I need to get into a rhythm and knock down a lot of shots in bunches.”

Anthony, meanwhile, found himself frustrated as he sat the bench for the final 6:16 of the Nuggets’ 94-75 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

The rookie forward scored 20 points, but had just four points in the second half. Anthony, usually cordial following games, declined to talk to the media after the game.

“I don’t feel like talking right now,” he said.

Denver has lost 11 of its last 15, and is tied with the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

“We’ve been frustrated,” Nuggets guard Andre Miller said. “But we’ll be all right. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”

Denver’s Nene had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Voshon Lenard scored 12 points and Andre Miller added 11. Nene returned after suffering a sprained ankle in a loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 20 rebounds for his NBA-leading 60th double-double of the season for the Timberwolves, who snapped a two-game losing streak to remain three games behind Sacramento Kings for the top spot in the Western Conference.

“We need all these games but it was good just to establish some flow and get out of this little funk we’ve been in as of late,” Garnett said. “We’re trying to gain some momentum.”

Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said guard Troy Hudson, who played just three minutes because of a sprained right ankle, likely will not play against Denver.

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