Updated at: 11/14/2012 11:05 PM
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
(AP) MINNEAPOLIS - Kemba Walker’s jumper with 0.7 seconds left lifted the Charlotte Bobcats to an 89-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Walker finished with 22 points, five assists and four rebounds, and his 19-footer over the out-stretched arm of Alexey Shved helped the Bobcats to their first three-game winning streak in nearly 20 months.
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.
The Bobcats looked like they would cruise to the win when they led 85-71 with about four minutes to go.
The Wolves trimmed it to 85-81 with just more than two minutes to play. Bobcats G 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 knocked down one of two free throws to tie it before Walker went into his UConn bag of tricks 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 rebounds and Shved scored 13 for the Timberwolves, who shot just 38 percent and missed 17 free throws.
It was a good lesson for the young Bobcats, who certainly aren’t used to winning.
The Bobcats slogged through a 7-59 season last year, the worst winning percentage in NBA history. 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.
Now the team that lost its last 23 games and never won consecutive games last season has won three in a row for the first time since March 2011.
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. Minnesota briefly made a run at them to start the second half, but the Bobcats closed the third period with an 8-0 run and never looked back.
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.
NOTES: Bobcats G Ben Gordon missed the game for personal reasons. ... Love is scheduled to have a 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.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)