DENVER, Jan. 26 (Ticker) -- Latrell Sprewell overshadowed a subpar performance with one big shot. Rookie Carmelo Anthony could not do the same.

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Sprewell tipped in a rebound to give the Minnesota Timberwolves the lead for good and Anthony missed a clutch free throw with eight seconds left as the Denver Nuggets were handed a 97-95 loss.

Sprewell scored just 13 points - nearly five below his season average - on 6-of-17 shooting and was held scoreless in the fourth quarter before making the most of his first offensive rebound.

Kevin Garnett's jumper from the left baseline rattled out and no one paid attention to Sprewell, who cut to the basket and tipped in the miss with his left hand, giving the Timberwolves a 96-94 lead with 16 seconds to go.

"I thought it (Garnett's shot) was in," Sprewell said. "I was just trying to get to the basket just in case it popped out and it did. It rattled in and came out luckily on my side."

Anthony made 6-of-15 shots en route to 14 points and had a chance to tie it when he was fouled on a drive. He missed the first attempt but made the second and the Nuggets were forced to foul Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg with six seconds left.

"It came down to the end. I could have sent the game into overtime but I missed that first free throw," Anthony said. "We still had a chance after that. We fought to the end today. The point of the game was that little tip in by Sprewell."

Hoiberg split the free throws, but Andre Miller missed a long 3-pointer as time expired for Denver, which has lost its last seven meetings with Minnesota.

Garnett had 31 points and 13 rebounds and Sam Cassell added 22 points and 11 assists for the Timberwolves, who have won 22 of 26 games since the start of December.

Minnesota has won five straight games to improve the league's best record to 31-12. It has the best road record in the NBA at 15-7.

"Bottom line we have to keep this thing going," Sprewell said. "I don't think that anybody expected us to be leading the league at this point, but we have had a consistent first half."

Andre Miller collected 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and Chris Andersen had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have lost three consecutive games for the first time this season.

"It's not just the three in a row, it's tonight's game is frustrating," Anthony said. "The way we fought all the way to the end and then to lose it like that."

Denver lost despite shooting 47 percent (40-of-86), scoring 56 points in the paint and holding a 35-12 advantage in fast-break points.

The Nuggets had a 90-82 cushion with six minutes left, but the Timberwolves reeled off eight straight points. Hoiberg buried two 3-pointer during the spurt, capping it from the arc to forge a tie with 3:22 remaining.

"My shot felt good all night," Hoiberg said. "I just stepped up and took them without even thinking and that's when I shoot the ball the very best."

Denver had a 94-90 edge after Anthony made his only basket of the second half with two minutes left. Gary Trent made two free throws and Garnett buried a hook shot to forge a 94-94 tie with 47 seconds to go.