MINNEAPOLIS, April 17 (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak scored 20 points in 23 minutes as the Minnesota Timberwolves matched their franchise record of 50 wins with a 104-90 triumph over the Denver Nuggets in the last game of the regular season.

With the game tied 14-14, Anthony Peeler hit a 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining in the opening quarter to give the Timberwolves the lead for good. Minnesota closed the period on an 11-0 run, and Denver never seriously threatened thereafter.

Peeler added 17 points and Gary Trent 15 for the Timberwolves, who are seeded fifth in the Western Conference and will face either San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers or, most likely, Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

Kevin Garnett had just six points but sat out the second and fourth quarters. Fellow All-Star Szczerbiak also was rested for the final period.

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Gary Trent went inside and out to put in a solid 15 points.
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Minnesota (50-32) previously recorded 50 wins two years ago.

"Anytime we win 50 games, it's considered good," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "They talk about Sacramento wins 60, it's considered a great year. So overall, in the scheme of things, 50 wins is good."

"Our goal is to do well and be successful as a team," Garnett said. "I feel that 50 sets a mark that is outstanding, especially when you think about the franchise and where it has come from. It shows that we are making strides to be better. At the same time, it's not what you do during the regular season that counts."

Minnesota, which is advancing to its sixth straight postseason, has never won a playoff series.

"There were two goals when we started: one, to get into the playoffs, and two, to get home court," Saunders said. "We didn't get home court, so we're in the same situation where we've been, where no one's going to pick us to win in the first round. We're better than where we've been, in that we're the fifth seed. There's a reason that a lot of fifth seeds beat fourth (seeds), because that's where your best matchups are."

Rookie Kenny Satterfield scored 21 points to pace Denver (27-55), which missed out on an opportunity to win a fourth consecutive game for the first time since January 12-19, 2001.

The Nuggets played without Juwan Howard (strained groin), Voshon Lenard (right knee tendinitis) and George McCloud (corneal abrasion).

"They were out there playing hard," said Minnesota's Chauncey Billups, who had just four points in 19 minutes. "They were playing without any of their main guys they started the season with. Theire guys were just getting an opportunity to play, and they played hard."

Minnesota led 53-38 at halftime and 76-61 after three quarters. The Nuggets got within 93-85 on a jumper by Satterfield with 2:39 left, but Felipe Lopez countered with a 3-pointer and Denver got no closer than nine points down the stretch.

"They should appreciate what they did for themselves," said Nuggets coach Mike Evans of his team. "They laid it on the line. We were in it tonight. There were bright spots, and we hung in there the whole way. They have nothing to hang their head about."

The teams split their four-game season series.

"We did have a good season and put ourselves in a good spot," Szczerbiak said. "But the goal of this team is to win a championship. Every team's goal should be to do that. We're going in with that mindset. We're going to play hard and play well. We know we can beat these teams. We just have to compete our hearts out."

"I feel they have a great chance if they come to play every night," said Denver's Donnell Harvey, who had 12 points. "It's not about the talent or anything like that. It's about heart. If they go out and leave everything on the court, I feel they can pull it off. They have a great chance."