Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/15/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kemba Walker took both himself and his Charlotte Bobcats back in time with his game-winning, last-second shot that beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 89-87 on Wednesday night at Target Center. His 19-foot jump shot with seven-tenths of a second remaining provided a fitting finish to a wild final six minutes on a night when Walker turned the calendar back 20 months -- to March 2011 to be precise -- with one 19-foot jump shot. That’s the last time the Bobcats – losers of their final 23 games last season – won three consecutive games, following home victories over Dallas (in overtime) and Washington by beating the injury-ravaged Wolves. That’s also the last time Walker felt the way he did Wednesday night, just like the guy he was in leading the University of Connecticut in March 2011 toward the NCAA championship, the guy who convinced the Bobcats to select him ninth overall in that summer’s NBA draft. He was asked after Wednesday’s victory if it felt to him like he was back at UConn. “Yeah, you could say that,” he said. “It felt like one of those days. I hit a lot of game winners in my college career. It definitely felt like one of those moments.” His shot over the outstretched arms of Wolves 6-6 rookie guard Alexey Shved also rescued his team after it gave away a 16-point, fourth quarter lead. The Bobcats led by as many as 14 points with as little as 4:08 remaining in the game, but allowed the Wolves a late 16-2 run that tied the game at 87 when Minnesota forward Derrick Williams made one of two free throws with 12.3 seconds left. Charlotte survived the Wolves’ finishing flourish, as well as Bobcats guard Reggie Williams’ decision to call time out with 38 seconds left when his team had none. The resulting technical foul call and Minnesota free throw cut the Charlotte lead to just one point, 87-86. The Wolves never grabbed the lead, even though they had the ball three times with the chance to take it. Walker’s final shot ultimately determined the Wolves would get no further than a tied game. “Kemba has done that his whole career,” Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. “It’s vintage, what he is. I’m a big Kemba guy. I know his high school coach. I coached against him when I was at St. John’s, so I’m glad we have him and they don’t.” What Dunlap perhaps liked most Wednesday was when Bobcats forward Tyrus Thomas came to set a screen for Walker as the final seconds ticked away and Walker motioned him away. “He said, `This is my game,’ “ Dunlap said. So Walker backed down Shved and created just enough separation to get a shot off that ripped the net and forced Wolves guard Luke Ridnour to miss a long desperation three-pointer at the final buzzer. “I told him no, just let me work so I could get a clean shot,” Walker said of his gesture toward Thomas. “I just happened to make a tough shot.” The Bobcats now are 4-3 after they won just seven of 66 games last season. The Wolves fell to 5-3 on a night when they started with six players out injured and then lost second-year guard Malcolm Lee to cramps in the game’s final minutes. That left them with just eight healthy players, and missing starters Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic. They shot just 38 percent against a young Bobcats team that protected the rim fiercely all night, to the tune of 12 blocked shots, including nine in the first half alone. The Wolves didn’t help themselves either when they made just 20 of 37 free throws. “Tough loss,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “We needed to play the start of the game the way we played the fourth quarter and we didn’t do that. We didn’t play with the energy we needed to. We gave ourselves a chance, but the guy (Walker) made a tough shot.” NOTES: Wolves management met Wednesday afternoon to discuss signing a free-agent small forward to back up starter Andrei Kirilenko, who played 44 minutes Wednesday for the second consecutive game. President of basketball operations David Kahn said no decision was made. The Wolves have been talking actively to agents seeking a player who will accept a veteran’s minimum salary and have pursued Mickeal Pietrus and Josh Howard, among others. They worked out Howard on Monday while the team was in Dallas for a game against the Mavericks. … Love said he will have his broken hand x-rayed in Minnesota on Tuesday and the images will be sent to a New York City specialist. He’s hopeful he’ll then receive approval to begin strengthening the hand and shooting. He's targeting making his season debut in early December. … The Wolves aren’t the only ones missing players: Bobcats guard Ben Gordon missed his second consecutive because of what the team called a family matter. Backcourt mate Gerald Henderson missed his fifth consecutive game because of a sprained left foot.
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