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Bobcats win wild one

By Mike Cranston
Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó The Charlotte Bobcats nearly blew an 18-point lead, missed key free throws and had a strategy decision backfire. The Minnesota Timberwolves roared back behind their new star, only to have a key turnover and a missed shot at the buzzer.
The two lottery-bound teams playing out the string didnít look pretty Tuesday night, but the end sure was interesting.
Behind Jason Richardsonís 36 points and some good fortune down the stretch, the Bobcats overcame their near collapse and a big night from Al Jefferson to hold off the Timberwolves, 121-119.
iIt was closer than we wanted, but we are trying to learn how to win close games,î Bobcats coach Sam Vincent. iAs long as we come out with a íWí in this kind of game, hopefully itís a learning experience for the guys.î
Jefferson matched a career high with 40 points and had a chance to force overtime, but his open 19-footer bounced off the rim as time expired. The Timberwolves, who dropped to 5-33 on the road, turned it over on the previous possession when Randy Foyeís pass for a cutting Jefferson bounced out of bounds.
iWe should have scored on both of them,î Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. iThatís how you win games like that, by making plays down the stretch.î
The Bobcats let the Timberwolves, who entered the night with the third-worst record in the NBA, back in the game with an anemic defense and poor execution.
Raymond Felton, who had 15 points and 11 assists, missed two free throws with 13 seconds and Charlotte leading 120-119. After Foyeís turnover, Matt Carroll, who scored 22 points, hit his first free throw, but Vincent told him to intentionally miss the second with one second left.
The Timberwolves quickly got the rebound and a timeout with 0.7 seconds left.
iI was a little nervous doing it, but it worked,î Carroll said. iI was surprised only three-tenths of a second went off.î
Then Jefferson, who hit 18 of 25 shots, somehow got free on the inbounds play, but he couldnít get the baseline jumper to fall.

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