DENVER — Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points in his return from a knee injury, hitting consecutive 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter to help quash any chance of another upset by Minnesota as the Denver Nuggets beat the Timberwolves 105-94 Monday night.
The All-Star forward, who is leading the NBA in scoring, missed the previous five games after suffering a right knee bruise Dec. 28 against Sacramento. His return was a welcome development for the Nuggets, who are getting healthy again after being buffeted by a series of injuries that saw some of their best players lose time due to various ailments.
The only Denver player who missed the Minnesota game due to injury was rookie guard Ty Lawson. He remained inactive because of a sprained left ankle, missing his third consecutive game.
Chauncey Billups, who returned last week from a groin injury, had 18 and Arron Afflalo 15 for Denver, which reversed the outcome of its Nov. 29 meeting with Minnesota. The Timberwolves overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to beat the Nuggets 106-100, snapping their 15-game losing streak.
Minnesota also handed Denver its first loss of the season at the Pepsi Center, ending a 17-game regular season home winning streak that had dated back to last season.
But the Nuggets have regained their footing since that embarrassing loss, especially at home, where they have gone 9-2 since the Minnesota defeat.
Corey Brewer had 25 points for the Timberwolves, who lost their fourth consecutive game on the road. Al Jefferson added 22 points and 15 rebounds while Kevin Love had 20 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota. Ryan Gomes, who had a season-high 27 points in Minnesota's victory at Denver, was held to 2 points this time around.
Up by eight at the break, the Nuggets extended their lead to 85-70 by the end of the third quarter. Billups chipped in eight of his points during the period, twice hitting 3-pointers to deflate runs by the Timberwolves.
The Nuggets led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, taking a 58-45 lead when Billups converted a three-point play with 56.4 seconds remaining in the period. But the Timberwolves closed to within 58-50 at halftime by scoring the last five points in the period, including a three-point play by Brewer, who had 20 of his points in the first half.
NOTES: The three teams ahead of last-place Minnesota in the Northwest Division all have winning records, topped by Denver. ... Denver has defeated the Timberwolves in 11 of the team's last 12 meetings. ... Kenyon Martin had 15 rebounds to go with his eight points for Denver.