So when Stephen Curry started lighting it up Monday night in his homecoming game, Walker decided it was time to match him.
The other eight players might as well have been on the bench watching in the final few minutes, when Walker scored Charlotte’s final 15 points to lead the Bobcats to a 115-111 victory over Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Walker finished with 31 points — 27 in the second half — while battling neck and neck with Curry, who finished with a season-high 43 points, 32 of them coming in the second half including 19 in the final quarter.
When it was suggested it was like watching a pair of heavyweight champions going at it, teammate Gerald Henderson looked over at his 6-foot-1, 184-pound teammate and cracked, ”Well, maybe a featherweight championship fight.”
Walker just smiled and shook his head, perhaps too tired to fire back a witty volley after spending the night fighting through screens and chasing Curry around the court.
”It is fun,” Walker said of facing Curry. ”Everybody knows he’s a great player, a great scorer. I love to play against the best. He made some tough shots. I thought I played some good defense, but it was better offense at times. We came out with the win. That’s all I really care about at this point.”
Curry, a Charlotte native who burst on the national scene while playing at nearby Davidson College, said it was fun playing well in front of his family, including his father Dell, a former NBA player and now a broadcaster with the Bobcats.
Even so, taking the loss was disappointing.
”This one stings worse than it has stung in a while,” Curry said.
Curry was impressed with Walker’s effort.
”Hey man, the guy made big plays down the stretch,” he said. ”He got to the lane and made some tough shots. He kept them just ahead of us. I’m sure that is what they expect him to do, and what he expects to do every night.”
The Warriors (12-11) never led, but tied the game at 88-all on a pair of free throws by Curry.
But Ramon Sessions scored on a pair of drives and the seldom-used Ben Gordon knocked down a 3-pointer to quickly push the lead back to seven with 6:50 left in the game. Walker hit a 3-pointer and a fall away in the lane to help stretch the lead to 11.
But Curry kept coming.
He knocked down a 28-footer with Walker’s hand in his face to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 111-109 with 11 seconds left. But the Warriors were forced to foul and Walker hit four free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal the victory.
Henderson had 24 points and Josh McRoberts had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats (10-11), who won their second straight game.
Walker finished 10 of 18 from the field.
”Kemba is A-1 competitor and that is a well-rounded game he played because he played tenacious, I don’t care how many points (Curry) had,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. ”… Some of Curry’s shots were just unguardable.”
Curry was 3 of 11 in the first half, but got hot late in the third quarter and finished 14 of 32 from the field against a Bobcats team that hadn’t allowed 100 points in 13 straight games. He was only 5 of 16 from 3-point range, but was 10 of 12 from the free-throw line.
Curry also had nine assists.
The Warriors fell behind by 12 at the half after shooting 1 of 12 from 3-point range.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said before the game that Curry’s play has been ”spectacular” this season.
”He’s been playing at a whole different level,” Jackson said. ”He’s playing and acting like he’s the best player on the floor night in and night out, carrying us down the stretch, making plays, choosing when to take over offensively and he knows when to facilitate.”
”You see his scoring and you fall in love with his jump shot. He’s a guy that’s among the league leaders in assists also. He’s playing at a different level. He’s getting to the level of the baddest man on the planet. It’s really fun to see. It takes everyone else to another level.”
NOTES:David Lee had 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for the Warriors. … Clay Thompson was slapped with a technical foul after slamming the padding underneath the basket when he got upset over a foul that was called on him. … Gordon had a season-high 12 points for Charlotte. He played more with Jeffery Taylor out with an injury. … Curry has scored 20 or points 14 times this season.