Nemanja Bejlica hit a 3-pointer to give the Timberwolves a 93-90 lead with 2:48 to play, but the Nuggets went on an 8-0 run and beat Minnesota 100-96 in a pivotal Western Conference showdown in Denver Thursday night.
Had the Wolves won they would've been able to clinch a playoff spot by beating the Lakers in Los Angeles Friday night, but that's no longer possible.
Instead, both Minnesota and Denver are 44-35, with the Wolves holding eighth place in the playoff race due to the tiebreaker.
Both teams are also just a half-game back of seventh-place New Orleans (44-34) and one game behind sixth-place Oklahoma City (45-34) and fifth-place San Antonio (45-34).
Minnesota's still controls its destiny and can clinch a playoff spot by winning two of its final three games, so long as one of those two wins comes against Denver next Wednesday in the final game of the regular season.
Butler active, but doesn't play
The Wolves ruled Jimmy Butler active before the game, a surprise move considering he was listed as doubtful on Wednesday's injury report.
But Butler did not play in the game, and it's unclear if he'll play when the Wolves take on the Lakers Friday night.
Their All-Star leader has been out since tearing his meniscus (right knee) Feb. 23 against the Rockets.