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Bobcats 89, Timberwovles 87

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The same Charlotte Bobcats franchise -- but not the same team -- that lost its final 23 games last season now has won three consecutive games for the first time since March 2011 after Wednesday's wild 89-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.

Remade with the summertime hiring of coach Mike Dunlap and five off-season player additions, the Bobcats followed home victories over Dallas in overtime and Washington in regulation time to deliver the injury-ravaged Wolves their first home loss this season.

They did so when Kemba Walker's jump shot with seven-tenths of a second left broke a tie game after the Wolves came back from a 14-point deficit in the final four minutes.

The Bobcats withstood a late 15-2 Wolves run and their own mistake when they tried to call a timeout they didn't have in the final 38 seconds.

They withstood three Wolves chances to claim the lead in the final 13 seconds. Derrick Williams made one of two free throws to tie the game with 12.3 seconds left, but Walker answered at the other end just before time expired.

Luke Ridnour's desperation 3-point heave at the buzzer missed from long distance.

Walker scored 22 points and former Wolves guard Ramon Sessions added 18 points off the bench as those two guards exploited a Minnesota defense that finally showed signs of injury fatigue when they started the game with six men injured and then lost guard Malcolm Lee late in the game.

The Bobcats started the game without Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson, a mere pittance compared to the six players, including starters Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic, that the Wolves played without.

Without Pekovic in the middle for Minnesota, Charlotte dominated around the rim with length provided by big men Brendan Haywood, Byron Mullens, Bismack Biyombo and Tyrus Thomas.

The Bobcats blocked 12 Minnesota shots, nine in a first half alone when they built a lead as big as 15 points.

The Wolves pulled within just four points at 85-81 with 2:02 left in the game thanks to a late 10-0 run. Mullens pushed Charlotte's lead back to four points by scoring on a putback dunk of his own missed layup on the next possession.

The Wolves didn't help themselves any by making 20 of 37 free-throw attempts.

The Wolves entered the evening with nine healthy players, and on a four-game streak where they had lost a player to injury each night.

A week ago, J.J. Barea chased a loose ball into the scorer's table in the fourth quarter with his team leading big and walked away with a sprained foot that has kept him out since.

Two nights later, Brandon Roy didn't play the second half Friday after he aggravated a knee he had banged twice before already this season. On Saturday, Chase Budinger was lost for at least three months when he tore the lateral meniscus in his knee with six minutes left at Chicago and, on Monday in Dallas, starting center Nikola Pekovic sprained his ankle when he stepped on Vince Carter's foot.

Add it all up with already-out Love and Rubio and that's six players injured, many of them whose images Wolves coach Rick Adelman passed on a Target Center wall advertisement when he walked in the arena Wednesday.

"They have nine players up there, and six of them aren't playing," Adelman said. "They ought to put 'Injured' on those guys. I've just never anything like this, game after game losing somebody."

The Bobcats took advantage when Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko -- one of only two starters still healthy -- went to the bench for a brief rest in the second quarter.

The Wolves trailed 28-25 at that point. When he returned to the game mere minutes later, they trailed 43-31 to a Charlotte team that exploited the Wolves' weary defense with attacks from point guards Walker and Sessions.

The Bobcats never trailed in the first half, led by as many as 15 points and took a 51-38 lead into halftime against an opponent that they held to just 32 percent shooting before intermission.

NOTES: Love said he will have his broken hand X-rayed Tuesday in Minnesota and the images will be sent to a New York City specialist. He said he's hopeful he'll receive approval to begin strengthening the hand and shooting. He is targeting his season debut in early December. ... The Wolves aren't the only ones missing players: Bobcats guard Ben Gordon missed his second consecutive game because of what the team called a family matter. Backcourt-mate Gerald Henderson missed his fifth consecutive game because of a sprained left foot. ... The two-game winning streak the Bobcats brought into Target Center was the franchise's first since April 2011. ... Love has started his annual Coat Drive, a campaign in conjunction with the Salvation Army that offers tickets Love has purchased for two December games to fans who donate new coats to keep other warm through those cold Minnesota winters.
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