The Charlotte Bobcats are winning because theyre guarding, and that was true even on the night they allowed the most points this season.
Coach Steve Clifford said the first half Monday was the best defense of the season. Thats when the Bobcats held the Golden State Warriors to 35 percent shooting and 41 points. They held on from there, in the face of former Davidson star Stephen Currys 43 points, in a 115-111 victory.
Understand the context: The Bobcats were without three of their top defenders, the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeff Taylor and Bismack Biyombo. They were matched against a team with a slew of scorers, in Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee.
Curry was spectacular, but the other Warriors didnt do much. That kept the Bobcats from ever trailing and point guard Kemba Walker finished the job with four free throws in the last 10 seconds.
Curry, with his father, Dell, calling the game on Bobcats television, hit a season-high in points and his fourth quarter was particularly dynamic: 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line for 19 points in 12 minutes.
I love the challenge of playing against the best, Walker (31 points) said of Curry, who grew up in Charlotte. He made some tough shots (but) we came out of it with a win. Thats all I care about.
The Bobcats are 10-11 and on a two-game winning streak. They had blown double-digit leads last week on the road against the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. Monday they never fell behind. Clifford called this the best victory of the season because of the quality of the opponent.
Steph Curry made some shots that are unguardable, Clifford said. Sometimes you watch film and say, This is whats great about my job.
Not so great that Clifford would want to coach against Curry every game, but Clifford was proud of how his team compensated for the loss of three players to injury.
Theyre very hard to guard and our pick-and-roll coverages were so good, Clifford said of the first half.
Shooting guard Gerald Henderson was hot early for the Bobcats, finishing with a season-high 24 points. That came in addition to an acrobatic block from behind of a Barnes layup. Henderson was on the floor 37 exhausting minutes because he was both his teams starting shooting guard and backup small forward Monday.
All the while guarding either Barnes or Klay Thompson.
They make 3-pointers (a league-best 43 percent from the arc) and they score quickly. Youve got to fight through that, Henderson said. They didnt shoot all that well, but we were in the right spots defensively.
Clifford said Henderson plays a big role in that precision.
He plays mistake-free at both ends of the floor, Clifford said. When you execute, you give yourself a chance.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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