Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Everybody keeps waiting for the Charlotte Bobcats to slip from their lofty position among the league's best defenses.
At first glance, you might assume that the season-high 111 points the Kitties surrendered to the Golden State Warriors was the first sign of an inevitable defensive decline. But the Bobcats—who beat the Warriors 115-111 on Monday, by the way—defended brilliantly in first half.
The Dubs managed just 41 points in the first two quarters.
But then Stephen Curry found his happy place, piling up 32 points on a series of acrobatic drives and long-range heaves. He finished with 43 points on 14-of-32 shooting.
There's really not a defense on the planet that can stop Curry when he gets into one of his grooves, but the Bobcats did well to limit everyone else in a Warriors jersey throughout the contest.
In the end, head coach Steve Clifford was happy with his team's defensive effort.
"Steph Curry made some shots that are unguardable," Clifford said, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. "Sometimes you watch film and say, ‘This is what’s 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.
"They’re very hard to guard and our pick-and-roll coverages were so good," Clifford said of the first half.
Charlotte currently ranks third in the league with a defensive rating of 97.7, per NBA.com. That's a fantastic sign for a rebuilding team, because installing a sound defensive scheme is one of the toughest tasks in any stage of NBA development.
With Clifford preaching defense and the entire roster buying in, it's starting to look like the Bobcats (10-11) have entered the realm of the respectable for good.