LOS ANGELES -- Just like that, the game was tied at 83, with more than four minutes still to go. Golden State's 21-point lead, which they held just 10 minutes earlier, was extinct.
The stage was set for another disappointing loss. The Warriors, finishing a back-to-back set, were again reeling, wilting under the pressure of a late run by the home team. This time, though, they didn't cave.
Rather suddenly, Golden State flipped the switch Sunday -- just in time to pull out a 97-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Over the final 3:19, after a timeout allowed them to regroup, the Warriors made every necessary play down the stretch.
"We don't have a history of responding when an opponent increases the volume," Warriors coach Mark Jackson proudly told reporters after the game. "I love the fact that my guys settled down and made plays."
The Warriors survived despite scoring just 19 points on 5-for-13 shooting with six turnovers in the fourth quarter. Even with the fourth-quarter struggles, Golden State still finished at 51.4 percent from the field, including 8 of 15 from 3-point range.
The Warriors held the Clippers to 43 percent shooting.
That's two straight victories. A game at Sacramento on Tuesday, a winnable game, is the only thing standing between the Warriors and their second three-game win streak of the season. Their confidence is sky high after knocking off a rested Clippers team in the running for
For good reason, too. With point guard Stephen Curry glued to the bench -- the Warriors took the Clippers' best shot and, though dazed, didn't fall.
"At the end of the day, we looked up and saw we were still ahead," guard Monta Ellis said after totaling 21 points and 11 assists, his second 20-and-10 game of the season. "We kept our composure."
The Warriors regained control after starting center Ekpe Udoh blocked a runner by Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe. Ellis grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast, dropping in a reverse layup in traffic to put the Warriors up 85-83 with 2:58 left.
After Griffin split a pair of free throws, forward Brandon Rush put the Warriors up 87-84 by dunking back Udoh's miss. Rush then grabbed a critical rebound on the ensuing defensive possession, securing a much-needed stop.
Then David Lee (18 points, 10 rebounds), who had been in foul trouble all night, converted a tough driving layup to put the Warriors up by five. He ran to the bench flexing his muscles after the Clippers called a timeout with 1:27 left.
Before Ellis' basket, the Warriors had totaled five points and six turnovers in the quarter. But in a span of less than two minutes, they were as clutch as ever.
After the timeout, the Warriors took advantage of another Clippers turnover -- an illegal rim assist -- to get the ball back. Rookie swingman Klay Thompson knocked down two free throws to put Golden State ahead 91-84 with 1:19 left. They were the first of eight free throws the Warriors made down the stretch to seal it.
"No reason to panic," forward Dorell Wright said. "We were up, and they made their run."
"It feels OK," Curry said. "I'll have two days to prepare for Tuesday in Sac. Hopefully I get some extended minutes. ... Every time I think I've gotten out of Dodge with injuries, something else happens. So I've got to keep doing what I'm doing and stay positive."
Midway through the third quarter Saturday, Curry suffered a mild sprain when he appeared to step on the foot of Dallas big man Ian Mahinmi. He did not return, though the Warriors said he was cleared to play.
Curry said he felt good during pregame warm-ups Sunday, but his status was uncertain until the lineups were released with his name on them. It was his second consecutive start. He played the first six minutes, seven seconds of the game. But he didn't look the same, limping on occasion and not nearly as aggressive.
Apparently, Jackson didn't like what he saw, because he played Curry just 3:05 the rest of the way.
Based on how cold he's been lately, Sunday's effort was nothing short of on fire.
Coming into Sunday's game against the Clippers, Wright had missed 32 of his last 42 attempts from 3-point range. In his previous 10 games, he was averaging 5.6 points on 26.5 percent shooting.
But you couldn't tell Sunday he had been struggling.
"Swagger was born in me," said Wright, a Los Angeles native. "Everybody else was worried but myself. I'm going to keep going out there and shooting, getting my extra shots up. And when the game comes, I've got to do what I did (Sunday), knock down open shots."
Warriors (17-21) at Sacramento (14-27). 7 p.m. CSNBA