The Charlotte Bobcats, largely on the shoulders of center Al Jefferson, had managed to stay afloat over the past few weeks of the 2013-14 NBA season while their star point guard in Kemba Walker was out of action with an ankle injury. However, Jefferson got his pick-and-roll mate back on Tuesday night as the Bobcats faced off with the Golden State Warriors.
Walker played about like you would expect a quick and shifty guard returning from a lower-body injury to play. Though his minutes weren’t limited as he was on the floor for 33 against Golden State, Walker put up seven points, seven assists, six boards and one steals on the night, but shot only 3-11 from the floor, 1-4 from three, committed three turnovers and didn’t attempt a free throw.
While Walker didn’t have a triumphant return to action, particularly in terms of scoring the ball, his lack of production didn’t really matter. Having Walker back in the lineup helped sure up a recently struggling Bobcats defense apparently as Charlotte completely stifled the Warriors on Tuesday night.
En route to a 91-75 victory for the Bobcats, Charlotte limited the Warriors to just 31.2 percent shooting from the floor and to meager 4-20 shooting from three-point range. The Bobcats did a great job of closing out on shooters, rotating, and basically all the things that you need to do to be successful defensively against a good team.
To be clear, the Bobcats were certainly aided by questionable decision-making from Golden State. Their lineups seemed out of sync for most of the night as did their plays and they didn’t do themselves any favors in terms of knocking down open looks. However, credit is still due to Charlotte for not making life easy on that end of the floor.
It’s one game and Walker still needs to show more signs of improvement, but if the Bobcats’ defense can get back to playing even close to at this level, they will be much better off going forward. In essence, if their defense can return to this form, it’s hard to imagine a world where they don’t make the postseason in the East.