What was supposed to be a homecoming for the hometown kid, Stephen Curry, was eventually spoiled by the hometown team. Being short Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeff Taylor and Bismack Biyombo meant that the Bobcats were going to have to work extra hard and remain focused for the entire game if they really wanted to upend the Warriors at home. Sure, the Warriors were short forward Andre Iguodala, but their offense was still potent enough to offset the drop in defense caused by his absence.
Gerald Henderson set the tone early for how he intended to break down the Warriors defense with a nice dunk and layup inside. The Warriors looked like a team that had worked their way cross-country, highlighted by Curry's 1-8 start from the quarter. As Golden State struggled to manufacture any offense, the Bobcats went to work. Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker got inside for a couple of easy baskets, and Josh McRoberts nailed a three to force a Warriors timeout. Harrison Barnes and Curry would eventually work to cut the lead to 17-14, but the Bobcats would rally, capitalizing on Warriors miscues to close the first frame with a 27-21 point lead.
The strong start by the Bobcats was crucial to their chances of finishing the game on top, but you cannot coast through a game against the Warriors hoping that they are going continue missing shots. So the Bobcats came out firing. McRoberts hit a layup. Anthony Tolliver hit a three. Even Ben Gordon hit a pair of free throws to give them a 13 point lead early on in the second quarter. As the Warriors continued to wake up, the Bobcats continued to keep them at arm's length and eventually took a 51-43 lead into the half.
It was Henderson who led the way for the Bobcats with 14 points at the half -- Not a bad first half for the birthday boy. Keeping the Carolina connections strong, Harrison Barnes had seven points and Curry had 10 points and a handful of assists.
Entering the third, you had the feeling that the Warriors' cold shooting wouldn't last, and it didn't. The Warriors came out roaring, hitting five of their first eight shots. Which shouldn't surprise anyone since Golden State hadn't even managed to crack either 40 percent from the field or even 30 percent from three to that point. Knowing that the Warriors would get going eventually, the Bobcats had to adjust. They couldn't rely on those midrange jumpers and would eventually need to work to get better looks. Curry would eventually lead the charge, assisting on two of Klay Thompson's threes in the quarter and the Bobcats' lead had dwindled to 83-77.
It was the fourth quarter when this game really began to kick into high gear. The Warriors eventually tied it up at 88 on a pair of Curry free throws. This was a moment of truth for the Bobcats, a gut check, if you will. And the Bobcats stood up to the challenge, matching the Warriors' pace and going shot for shot, which is an incredible feat for a team that prefers a slower pace and struggles with shooting. Led by Walker, the Bobcats were able to get into the lane and break down the defense. As they had gotten with Tolliver, Ben Gordon hit a huge three to put the Bobcats up seven, a lasting lead for good. The game carried on at this pace right up until Curry's 40-footer fell harmlessly off of the rim.
Earlier in the week we heard that Bobcats players went to coach Steve Clifford telling him that they're tired of losing, to which Clifford told them to rebound. Well, tonight the Bobcats could have used every excuse in the book: their youth, their injuries or the Warriors' high talent level. Yet, they didn't. The Bobcats showed that they were tired of losing and never relented when Golden State made their inevitable run. When it eventually happened, they could have folded and accepted it, but they didn't. Not only did they get the contributions they needed from the important players like Walker, Jefferson and McRoberts, but they could not have done this without guys like Sessions, Tolliver and even Gordon. The Bobcats played above their age tonight by making their free throws, protecting the ball and tightening up on defense when the game was hanging in the balance. It was impressive and indicative of a well-coached team that was truly tired of losing.
Walker led the Bobcats with 31 points, five rebounds and five assists and Henderson tallied a season high 24 points. Curry finished with 43 points and nine assists, but the Bobcats' bench outplayed theirs 32-10, negating his grand performance.