Coming off of an overtime road win against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday having won two of their last three games, things couldn't have looked brighter for the Charlotte Bobcats.
That was until Wednesday's match up with the Western Conference foe Utah.
The Bobcats (9-25) gave up 60 points in the first half and couldn't catch up, falling 112-102 to the Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena.
"We had a slow start against Detroit and were able to mend our ways," said Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap. "I think some of that is just, quite frankly from a coaching standpoint, you just don't know if (a slow start) is going to happen or not. What I did was move down the bench. I started a different group in the second half and third quarter trying to find energy guys to go at it. I think that is your option. At the same time, there was no negativity towards that. We were a little flat in a couple of spots."
Al Jefferson led the way for Utah (19-18), scoring a game-high 26 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Paul Millsaps added 19 points and five rebounds.
The Jazz scored 63 points in the first half of Wednesday's contest — marking the third-straight game that the Bobcats have allowed 60 or more points to a team in the first half of a game this season.
Charlotte allowed 62 first half points against Cleveland on Friday and 60 against Detroit on Sunday.
"We've got to pick up our defense," said Bobcats forward Gerald Henderson, who scored 14 points off of the bench. "I don't know how many points we scored tonight, but we probably scored enough to win. We just gave up too many points. It's tough to try to come back on a team like that when you are down early so much."
The Bobcats also added to their own problems by committing nine first half turnovers. They were also outrebounded by a 23-18 margin.
Down 63-44 at halftime, Charlotte continued to fight back and received a huge boost from Ben Gordon and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Despite being down by 21 points at one point in Wednesday's game, Gordon and Kidd-Gilchrist cut the Bobcats' deficit to as little as 10 points following a dunk by MKG with 3:35 left in the third.
Dunlap thought both player's games started to elevate during the second quarter of Wednesday's game.
"I think those two guys started it there, and I think they continued it in the third quarter — both Gilchrist and Ben from an offensive perspective, especially," he said. "Gilchrist gets in there on the boards. Those are hustle plays. He is in there between two bigs (Jefferson and Millsaps), and he is pulling rebounds out of there. He gives us that added dimension. The other thing is his spirit. Both he and Ben had good spirit out there."
Gordon finished with a game-high 20 points, while Kidd-Gilchrist was just behind with 15 points.
Despite those two player's efforts, Utah was able to swell its lead back to where it was thanks in part to Jefferson's play.
The Jazz were also added by their 3-point shooting. Utah players made 10 treys and shot 45 percent from behind the arc.
"When we tried to cover them straight up, that wasn't the answer," Dunlap said. "When we tried to double them, they abused us a little bit from the outside. We were just trying to find answers in that form. Offensively, it was hard for us to run when they were shooting 57 percent or what not in that first half."
Charlotte has a three-game road swing, which starts Friday at Toronto (13-22). The trip also includes contests against Indiana (21-14) on Saturday and Boston (18-17) on Monday.
The 'Cats return to Time Warner Cable Arena at 7 p.m. Tuesday for their second match up in four days with the Pacers.
Henderson said if his team wants to improve, it has to pick up its defensive play.
"For us, a loss is a loss," he said. "That's been our thing, though. Our defense has struggled. We just need to pick that up. That is what has been holding us back now."