By Matt Rochinski
November 14, 2012
This is why the Bobcats drafted Kemba Walker in 2011. After watching Walker hit clutch shot after clutch shot to lead UConn to the 2011 NCAA Championship, Chairman Michael Jordan and the Bobcats targeted Walker because he was a winner who wasn’t afraid to have the ball in his hands at crunch time. With time winding down on November 14 in Minnesota, Walker hit a stepback jumper over Alexey Shved with 0.7 seconds remaining to give Charlotte its third straight win, 89-87. Kemba was clutch again.
Kemba Walker’s game-winning bucket would never have happened if the Bobcats didn’t step up defensively in the final four possessions of the game, holding the Timberwolves without a field goal to get the win… It didn’t look like the Cats were headed towards the dramatic finish early on, as they dominated the first three quarters. Charlotte led 69-53 heading into the fourth led by 14 points from Walker, 12 from Ramon Sessions and 10 from Tyrus Thomas.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Bench play was big for the Bobcats, as Ramon Sessions (18 points) and Tyrus Thomas (10) helped Charlotte’s reserves outscore Minnesota, 40-24… The Bobcats defense continues to apply pressure, forcing 17 Timberwolves turnovers they turned into 19 points… Byron Mullens turned away four shots to lead the Bobcats block party at the rim. Charlotte swatted 12 shots with four players – Mullens (four), Thomas (three), Brendan Haywood (two) and Bismack Biyombo (two) – turning away more than one Minnesota attempt… Nine players scored for the Bobcats, but only three – Kemba Walker (8 points), Ramon Sessions (6) and Mullens (6) – added to their point totals in the fourth quarter.
BOBCATS PLAYER OF THE GAME
How could you not give it to Kemba Walker? He hit the game-winning shot with 0.7 seconds left, scored a team-high 22 points, dished out five assists, grabbed four rebounds, swiped four steals and even blocked a shot.
BOBCATS TOP RESERVE
The nod goes to Ramon Sessions again. He came off the bench to score 18 points to go with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and did not turn the ball over.
TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER OF THE GAME
Andrei Kirilenko tallied a game-high 26 points and team-high 12 rebounds, as he continues to impress in his return to the NBA after a one-season hiatus.
INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM
“Kemba has done that his whole career. What I liked was that he pushed the pick away and said ‘this is my game.’ It’s vintage what he is and obviously I have been his biggest fan. I’m a big Kemba guy and I know his high school coach. I coached against him when I was at St. Johns, so I’m glad we have him and they don’t.”
– Head Coach Mike Dunlap on Kemba Walker’s game-winning shot
“It is a great win. Of course we don’t like the fact that they came back but it happens. We have to go through some things to grow. For us to stay tough and get the win is huge. It is a lot better to learn the lessons in a win. It was very important because we win a lot of games when we have the same situation and we have to learn to take care of the basketball and make the right plays.”
– Bobcats Guard Kemba Walker on the win
Kemba Walker has scored in double digits in all seven of the Bobcats games this season… Charlotte outscored the Timberwolves 51-38 in the first half. Its 51 points were a season high for any half… The Bobcats defensive pressure helped hold Minnesota to 38.3 percent (31-for-81) shooting… Charlotte was outshot at the free-throw line by 23 attempts. The Cats connected on 64.3 percent (9-for-14) of their freebies to the Timberwolves 54.1 percent (20-for-37)… Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had two points, two assists and two rebounds in 17 minutes. MKG was in foul trouble early in the game, limiting his minutes… Ben Gordon missed the game due to a personal family issue… Hakim Warrick is expected to make his Cats debut on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Bobcats return home to take on the Memphis Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. on November 17. You can watch the game on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Make sure you download the Bobcats app on your smartphone or go to bobcats.com to follow the live in-game chat.