They may still have an 11-32 record and might still be sitting in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, but the Bobcats can celebrate their 102-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yes, we know the Wolves entered the game without key players like Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, and Alexey Shved. Regardless, the Cats desperately needed a victory in Charlotte to break their 16-game losing streak at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Bobcats started miserably (even by their standards), allowing a banged-up Wolves team to quickly jump out to a 29-12 lead midway through the first quarter. Charlotte's defensive rotations were terrible, allowing the Wolves to easily move the ball around the perimeter for players like Luke Ridnour and Greg Stiemsma to get multiple open looks at the basket.
The Bobcats hung with the Wolves in the second quarter, remarkably scoring one more point than their opponent. Veteran reserves Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions combined for 12 of Charlotte's 25 points in the second. Gordon would stay in the game for most of the second thanks to Michael Kidd Gilchrist's four first-half fouls. Gordon had an extremely solid performance off the bench, making eight of his 13 field-goal attempts, and entertained fans by getting in the face of 6'11" Greg Stiemsma later on in the game.
While Charlotte was trading buckets with Minnesota early in the second half, a simple Cats time-out with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter helped bring the team back in the game. The Cats strung together a 15-to-four run, led by the offensive performance of Sessions and Henderson. The overall team defense of Charlotte also improved tenfold from the first half. Perhaps this was because the Wolves' depleted roster got tired.
The fourth quarter began with Charlotte coming out of the gate down 77-73, but Charlotte clawed back into the game with a run rushing out to an eight-point lead midway through the quarter. A few Ridnour buckets and a Barea three-pointer helped Minnesota tie it up quicker than an Adrian Peterson touchdown run or the Vikings being eliminated by Green Bay (sorry, I'm a Packers fan).
The remaining 4:37 of the game turned into a heavyweight title match of mediocrity with both teams landing an even amount of punches. Charlotte landed the haymaker, however. Minnesota was playing its best defense of the game, but Gerald Henderson somehow nailed a 25-foot jumper that literally left the Wolves wounded and unable to stand.
I've already discussed about how productive players like Sessions and Gordon were coming off of the bench, but the Player of the Game has to go to Kemba Walker. Kemba has been the main cog for this team, and that continued tonight. He finished with 25 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. His offense helped keep the Bobcats in the game when it looked like they were done, and he was one of the driving forces of the second half comeback. While Kemba was good offensively, an underrated part of his performance were those eight boards, which helped the team immensely by leading to transition offense.
Lastly, Bismack Biyombo posted only his second double-double of the year with 10 points and 13 rebounds. His offensive game is still very limited but his five offensive rebounds gave him some easy looks around the rim. He's still an extremely raw player at 20 years old, but he's showed signs of improvement.
The Wolves may have been a beat-up team but nobody should ever take a victory for granted. Especially when you're a Bobcats fan. Sometimes you forget how sweet a victory tastes when you're so used to defeat.