DENVER (AP) -- With Wally Szczerbiak near full strength and Kevin Garnett at the top of his game, the Minnesota Timberwolves are surging.
Szczerbiak scored a season-high 24 points in 41 minutes and Garnett had 25 points and 14 rebounds as Minnesota completed a four-game season sweep of the Denver Nuggets with an 85-77 victory Wednesday night.
"Now I'm not limited in how many minutes I play, so I'm able to get back into the flow of how I play," said Szczerbiak, who missed 23 games with a sprained toe on his left foot.
"It's been nice since the All-Star break. I'm not quite where I need to be, and I am still working out the kinks and stuff, but as long as we keep winning, I'm happy."
Szczerbiak is averaging 18 points in his last 11 games, and the Timberwolves are 16-5 since he returned to the lineup.
The Nuggets tried to take Garnett out of his game by roughing him up, but Garnett reacted by going 4-for-4 from the line and hitting a key jump shot in the fourth quarter in getting his 44th double-double of the season.
"They were physical in the beginning, they are a physical team and that is their identity," Garnett said. "For the most part we kept our composure, we ran off our plays and executed them when we had to."
Vincent Yarbrough hit his first five shots and led Denver with 18 points. Juwan Howard had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have lost seven straight.
"Let's give Minnesota some credit because they are a playoff-bound team and every game is big for them," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We needed less turnovers and we need to make more shots for us to beat them."
Szczerbiak's two free throws two minutes into the fourth quarter put the Timberwolves ahead 71-66. Kendall Gill hit a jumper and muscled in a shot with 6:19 left to increase the lead to 75-68.
Two free throws each by Troy Hudson and Garnett and a third free throw by Hudson after a technical foul on Howard pushed Minnesota's lead to 80-70 with 4:09 remaining.
Howard and Yarbrough connected on short jumpers to get the Nuggets within 82-77 with 1:38 to play, but Garnett buried a 15-foot jumper with 51 seconds left. After Nikoloz Tskitishvili missed a 3-pointer, Szczerbiak sealed the game from the line.
"We executed in the end, and they were overly aggressive so we just started taking the ball to the basket," Garnett said.
Szczerbiak had seven points in the second quarter and Garnett scored the last four points of the half for Minnesota as the Wolves held a 45-44 lead at the break.
Garnett and Blount drew technicals with 38 seconds left in the second quarter and exchanged trash talk the rest of the period.
Neither team led by more than five points or put together scoring runs of more than four points in the third quarter. After Rodney White's jumper cut it to 59-58, Mike Wilks hit his first basket, a 3-pointer, to make it 62-58.
Wilks hit a driving layup, and Tskitishvili's 3-pointer beat the buzzer to get Denver to 65-63 after three quarters.
Notes: Although eligible to be activated Friday, Saunders said guard Rod Strickland isn't close to returning from the injured list. ... Without Garnett on the floor, the Timberwolves were scoreless with three turnovers in six possessions early in the second quarter. ... The Nuggets rested Marcus Camby a night after he played 15 minutes at San Antonio.
Szczerbiak 9-20 6-10 24, Garnett 8-17 9-12 25, Nesterovic 3-9 1-2 7, Hudson 0-5 7-7 7, Peeler 3-7 0-0 7, Gill 3-6 0-0 6, Wilks 2-3 0-0 5, Jackson 1-1 0-0 2, Trent 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 30-72 23-31 85.
Howard 7-21 3-4 17, Bowen 1-4 0-0 2, Hilario 3-12 2-4 8, Yarbrough 7-11 2-2 18, Harrington 2-8 1-2 5, White 5-14 1-2 11, Andersen 5-8 1-3 11, Whitney 0-0 0-0 0, Tskitishvili 1-5 0-0 3, Blount 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 32-87 10-17 77.
Minnesota 23 22 20 20 -- 85
Denver 26 18 19 14 -- 77
3-Point Goals--Minnesota 2-7 (Peeler 1-2, Wilks 1-2, Hudson 0-1, Szczerbiak 0-2), Denver 3-8 (Yarbrough 2-2, Tskitishvili 1-4, Bowen 0-1, White 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Minnesota 51 (Garnett 14), Denver 61 (Howard 11). Assists--Minnesota 26 (Wilks 8), Denver 25 (Howard 5). Total fouls--Minnesota 16, Denver 24. Technicals--Garnett, Howard, Blount. A--15,109 (19,099).
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