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.