Late Rally Falls Short As Wolves Lose 89-87 To Bobcats
Web Editorial Associate
For a second, it looked like the Timberwolves would once again enjoy last-second heroics.
This time, it went the other way.
Kemba Walker drained a jumper with 0.7 seconds left, stifling a 16-point Wolves comeback in the final moments as the Bobcats stole an 89-87 victory over Minnesota at Target Center on Wednesday night.
Walker’s shot iced a game in which the Wolves struggled early but made a fierce fourth quarter comeback.
Wolves vs Bobcats
“We gave ourselves a chance, but the guy made a tough shot,” 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 missed a lot of shots and a lot of free throws.”
Things looked bleak for Minnesota until the fourth. Charlotte ended the quarter on a 12-3 run and took a 69-53 lead heading into the final frame. But intense defense led by seven blocked shots coupled with an offensive attack that exploded for 34 points in the fourth led the comeback. Alexey Shved scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth, and Kirilenko—who played 44 minutes—tossed in another seven to help bring the Wolves to a single basket away from the Bobcats with 38 seconds left.
With the Wolves trailing by two points, Charlotte’s inbounder Reggie Williams called a timeout when the Bobcats had none left—a technical foul. Luke Ridnour made his free throw, but a Shved turnover on the ensuing possession gave Ramon Sessions a breakaway chance at the rim. Dante Cunningham raced back on defense, blocking Sessions’ shot and sending him to the line where Sessions missed both charity shots.
Derrick Williams later drew a foul and made one of two free throws, finally tying the contest at 87-87. Much to the disappointment of an electric Target Center crowd, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker came back down the court, called an isolation on Shved, crossed over the rookie and hit the game-winner from around the free throw line with less than a second remaining.
“It’s very hard to lose that kind of game,” Kirilenko said, “feeling like you got it, then it slips through your fingers. I think we did a pretty good job in the fourth quarter forcing turnovers, bringing the game back. Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish it.”
Kirilenko led the Wolves in points and rebounding, scoring 26 and collecting 12 boards. Luke Ridnour enjoyed a double-double as well, netting 16 points and dishing 10 assists. Cunningham and Lou Amundson each had three blocks in an 11-block effort that was a team season-high.
Minnesota’s toughest statistic was easily its shooting percentages and slow start—until the fourth quarter, the Wolves shot 33 percent from the field and 15 percent from the perimeter. They also shot 52 percent from the free throw line [11-21], their third-worst single-game percentage in team history.
“I think we all contributed to that,” Williams said of the poor rate from the free-throw line. “It’s just concentration. Everyone missed a little bit.”
Charlotte’s top scorer was its hero Walker, who logged 22 points, five assists and four steals. Byron Mullens racked up 12 points and 15 rebounds, and Ramon Sessions came off the bench to contribute 18 points.
Leader of the Pack:
Andrei Kirilenko enjoyed his first 20-10 game since November 2009, recording 26 points on an efficient 9-12 shooting along with 12 rebounds. This performance was his third consecutive double-double and his fourth overall. Kirilenko also played 44 minutes, an encouraging feat for a team that only suited up nine healthy players.
“I was going to give Andrei a break early in the fourth quarter,” Adelman said, “but I thought if we were going to do anything we needed him on the floor. Then all of a sudden we closed the gap and it was anybody's game.”
Highlight of the Night
Around the 30-second mark, Charlotte’s Ramon Sessions stole a pass from Shved and raced down the hardwood. Preventing what would have been a crucial basket, Dante Cunningham sprinted back towards the hoop from half-court and blocked Sessions with a foul being called. With the help of the Target Center fan base providing plenty of noise, Sessions missed both free throws—keeping the Wolves’ hopes alive.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“When you fight all the way back and feel like you’re right there, losing in that fashion, those are always more difficult losses. Free throws were the difference.” — Minnesota center Lou Amundson, commenting on a loss where the Wolves shot the third-worst free throw percentage in team history [with a minimum of 30 FTA]
The Timberwolves get back to action on Friday, hosting the Golden State Warriors at 7 p.m. After that, the team enjoys a four-day break before resuming play against the Nuggets on November 21.