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11/14/2012 11:38 PM EST
Walker's jumper lifts Bobcats over Wolves, 89-87
CHARLOTTE 89, MINNESOTA 87

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Basketball Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Tie game, clock winding down, ball in his
hands. It's been a while since Kemba Walker has been in that
situation.



When he finally found himself there with the Charlotte Bobcats,
the super-slick guard dipped into his UConn bag of tricks. Just
like Villanova, Texas, Pitt and most other college teams he
vanquished, the Minnesota Timberwolves had no chance.



Walker's jumper with 0.7 seconds left lifted the Bobcats to an
89-87 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night, giving
Charlotte its first three-game winning streak in nearly 20
months.



Walker finished with 22 points, five assists and four rebounds,
and his 19-footer over the out-stretched arm of Alexey Shved
before the young Bobcats mobbed him in the backcourt to
celebrate a victory that was so difficult to come by last
season.



"Tonight, you can say that," Walker said when asked if it felt
like he was back in Storrs, Conn. "It felt like one of those
days. I had a lot of game winners in my college career. It
definitely felt like one of those days."



Byron Mullens had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Ramon Sessions
had 18 points and six rebounds for Charlotte, which has won
three straight games for the first time since March 2011.



Andrei Kirilenko had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the
Timberwolves, who used a 16-2 run to tie the game with 12.3
seconds left.



The Wolves were without six of their top seven players: Kevin
Love (broken right hand), Ricky Rubio (left knee), Chase
Budinger (left knee), Nikola Pekovic (left ankle), JJ Barea
(left foot) and Brandon Roy (right knee). They were relegated to
high-priced assistant coaches on Wednesday night, and their
encouragement wasn't enough to help a plucky group of role
players scratch together another win.



"Down the stretch it was like, `What are we going to do?"' coach
Rick Adelman said. "Who are we going to go to?"



The Bobcats looked like they would cruise to the win when they
led 85-71 with about four minutes to go.



But Minnesota's dormant defense came alive in the last four
minutes and Kirilenko's layup trimmed it to 85-81 with just more
than two minutes to play. Bobcats guard Reggie Williams then got
a technical foul with 38.9 seconds left for calling timeout when
they had none remaining, and Luke Ridnour knocked down the free
throw to make it 87-86.



Derrick Williams made one of two free throws to tie it before
Walker went with a lightning-quick stutter step to create a
sliver of daylight between him and Shved. The ball swished
through, just as it did so many times for him as a Husky.



Ridnour had 16 points and 10 assists and Shved scored 13 for the
Timberwolves, who shot just 38 percent and missed 17 free
throws.



"He hit a tough shot," Ridnour said. "That one stings."



It was a good lesson for the young Bobcats, who certainly can't
be blamed for not knowing how to close games out.



The Bobcats slogged through a 7-59 season last year, the worst
winning percentage in NBA history. They lost 23 in a row to
close last season and never put two wins together. But new coach
Mike Dunlap has infused the baby-faced roster with some
confidence and the freedom to get out on the break and run and
gun.



"It's because the guys have bought the message and they've
worked hard on the wood," Dunlap said. "We've had some long
practices and we've heard some squawking on that. Hopefully the
volume gets turned down on that a little bit because they can
see the benefit."



They shot 54 percent in the first half, using their young legs
to overcome playing the second night of a back-to-back and take
control of the game. Charlotte blocked 12 shots, making life
extremely difficult for Williams (3 for 12), Greg Stiemsma (0
for 6) and Malcolm Lee (3 for 12) near the basket.



"It's a lot better learning in a win, I can tell you that much,"
Walker said. "But it's very important. There's going to be more
games when we have that same situation. We've got to learn to
take care of the basketball, make the right plays when we're up
big."



NOTES: Bobcats G Ben Gordon missed the game for personal
reasons. ... Love is scheduled to have an X-ray on his hand on
Tuesday to see if he can start increasing his workload. He is
expected to be back by the first week in December at the latest.
... Tyrus Thomas had 10 points and three blocks for Charlotte.

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