Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Carmelo Anthony returned from a five-game absence to score 24 points and lead the Denver Nuggets to a 105-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Anthony had missed time with a right knee contusion, but started and shot 9- for-17 in a little more than 34 minutes. He also made 3-of-5 three-pointers to help the Nuggets take their third win in their last four games. Denver was 3-2 without Anthony in the lineup.
"When you come back and you're on the sideline, you really don't want to try to just force it back into the rhythm," Anthony said. "You want to ease your way in. The team still has things they were doing well. So you want to try to fit in and still do what you do best."
Six Nuggets finished in double-figure scoring, including Chauncey Billups, who had 18 points to go with 10 assists. Arron Afflalo and Nene added 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Minnesota beat Denver back on November 29 to snap a 10-game losing streak against the Nuggets, but shot just 37 percent Monday in the loss. Al Jefferson had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have one win in their last eight games.
"We did a pretty good job, except we had trouble making shots," said Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis. "Some of that can be accredited to how aggressive and how physical the Nuggets play defense. But some of it's just our guys' inability to make some shots."
Corey Brewer had a team-high 25 points for Minnesota, while Kevin Love added 20 points and 14 boards.
The Nuggets carried a 20-15 lead into the second quarter and continued to play in front by a possession or two. Nearing the midway point, Afflalo got a layup to fall and sank a three after a Love turnover. Nene followed with his own bucket to expand the Denver lead to 42-32.
The Nuggets' lead fluctuated and was as many as 13, but Minnesota ended the half with five points to get within 58-50 at the break.
An Anthony jumper a little more than three minutes into the third made it a 64-51 game, and the Nuggets led by double digits the rest of the frame, taking an 85-70 advantage into the fourth.
Denver led by more than 10 until Brewer's three with 1:34 to play got Minnesota within 99-90. But Malik Allen answered with a jumper to stave off a comeback, as the Nuggets held on from there.
A big difference was three-point shooting, as Denver sank 10-of-28 and the T'Wolves made 3-of-18. That helped compensate the Nuggets' free throw shooting, as they made 19-of-28 compared to 23-of-28 for Minnesota...Denver had 19 turnovers to 18 for Minnesota.