PHILADELPHIA — Thaddeus Young always had his confidence. He just needed to find his stroke.
Once he did, Young gave the 76ers a rare bright spot in a bleak season.
Young hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left to lift Philadelphia to a 95-92 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.
"I was like, 'I'm making this shot,'" Young said. "I hadn't made one the whole game. But I was like, whatever it takes, it was going to go down."
So did the Bobcats.
Young hit the final big shot in a fourth quarter loaded with back-and-forth baskets, a poorly contested jumper from the left of the arc off a feed from Michael-Carter Williams. Young scored 11 points and his winner was his only 3-pointer of the game. Kemba Walker's last-gasp shot was off the mark.
Spencer Hawes had 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Sixers. Evan Turner scored 23 points and Carter-Williams had 20.
"You find those (wins) from time to time to help promote what you're doing," coach Brett Brown said. "They work hard. They really invest time. They completely get along."
Walker led the Bobcats with 26 points and Al Jefferson had 24.
Hard to believe, the Bobcats (16-24) entered the game as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
But this one had the feel of a bad preseason finale until the final minutes. Charlotte's Gerald Henderson missed his first nine shots. Philadelphia's Tony Wroten spent more time throwing the ball into the stands than to a teammate. Sixers forward Brandon Davies was whistled for four fouls in 5 minutes.
Both teams shot clunkers from the free throw line (Bobcats 17 of 26; 76ers 11 of 20) and 3-point arc (Bobcats 5 of 20; 76ers 6 of 15). And the turnovers. So many turnovers — a sloppy 24 for the Sixers that led to 25 points and helped the Bobcats rally from 11 down.
"You fight hard to come back, then you just can't come up with the plays to win the game," Henderson said.
Henderson stripped Turner and dunked for a rare easy basket and a one-point lead late in the fourth. Hawes followed with a 3 to put the Sixers up 89-87. Jefferson tied it. Turner went inside to make it 91-89. Walker tied it at 92-all.
This one seemed set for overtime.
Young took care of that with one of his biggest shots of the season, a needed lift for a team with only 13 wins.
"We have to get better at finishing games and keeping our turnovers down," Young said. "We don't have very many (wins), so we have to cherish what we've got."
The sputtering Bobcats have lost nine of 10.
"When the game's on the line, you've got to have one clean coverage," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "We did a poor job with the two guys involved in that."
While the win helped the Sixers snap a four-game losing streak, they are still all about building for the future and have steeled themselves for a season spent near the bottom of the standings.
They hope Nerlens Noel helps take them to the top.
Noel, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, hasn't played this season as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 6-foot-11 center was injured last season playing for Kentucky. The Sixers are taking a cautious approach toward bringing along their top prospect.
Sixers president Sam Hinkie said some restrictions on Noel have been lifted and he is now able to participate in limited on-court work.
"There are several benchmarks Nerlens still must meet, and during that time we will closely monitor his progress and regularly evaluate his status," Hinkie said. "Our goal remains the same, which is to give Nerlens every opportunity to ensure a long, productive NBA career."
Brown said there was "no definitive timeline" on when Noel would play for the Sixers.
"At age 19, he's got an awful lot to offer, an awful lot to give," Brown said. "I personally can't wait to coach him. He's excited. He wants to get out there. But we have to do right by him."
Notes: Hawes and Carter-Williams each scored 12 points to help the Sixers take a 53-45 lead into halftime. ... The Sixers held a 50-42 rebounding edge. ... There were four lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter.