OAKLAND -- The wobbling Warriors returned home to Oracle Arena on Monday night, which was good news all by itself.
Then they got an additional positive development -- oft-injured center Andrew Bogut returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous six games, including all five on the Warriors' recently concluded trip during which they went 1-4.
And the game itself? Well, it was a tooth pull all evening against the lowly Toronto Raptors, but in the end, the Warriors came up with enough big plays and baskets in a 42-point fourth quarter to extract a 125-118 victory and start a seven-game homestand with a smile.
It wasn't a beauty, but with just 12 minutes to go, it looked as if it would turn out a lot uglier. The Warriors trailed Toronto 90-83 entering the fourth quarter after surrendering a 36-point third quarter to the Raptors, who came into the game just 1-10 on the road against NBA Western Conference foes.
But Stephen Curry, who performed so electrically on Golden State's trip despite the team's losing ways, not only came up big in the final period but also proved to be the difference in the win. Curry scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and Golden State also scored nine straight points with the score tied 100-all to finally shake the pesky Raptors (23-38).
That's what playing at home can do for a team in a bit of tailspin, even though before the game, coach Mark Jackson wasn't exactly feeling the
"Just because Dorothy clicks her heels and winds up at home doesn't mean that everything's going to be all right," Jackson said before the game.
Jackson wasn't exactly clicking his heels after this victory, nor were many of his players. The Warriors won for only the seventh time in 26 games after being outrebounded. They committed 14 turnovers that led to 22 Raptors points. They got worked inside by Toronto's Amir Johnson, who shot 10 for 10 from the floor (23 points) and also had 15 rebounds, 12 on the offensive end.
They also had that ghastly defensive third quarter, with Raptors sharpshooter Andrea Bargnani scoring 12 of Toronto's 36 points.
But in the fourth quarter, the Warriors rediscovered some long-lost mojo on both ends of the floor. Moving the ball sharply on the offensive end and locking down much better defensively, Golden State erased its seven-point deficit less than two minutes into the period. With the score
"I was really proud of the way we responded in the fourth quarter," Jackson said. "(The Raptors) had everything going their way, and we were down seven. But we came out with a sense of urgency. We defended, we executed, we set screens, and Klay Thompson knocked down some shots."
It remains to be seen if the Warriors got well with this win, but Jackson will take it. He reminded his team afterward that the first game at home after a long trip is often the toughest.
"We needed to gut out a win," he said. "It looked ugly for a while."
Lee agreed, noting, "I'm not happy with this win other than the fact that we won. But at this point, a win is a win. But we know we have to play a lot better moving forward."
On the pretty side, Golden State shot 57.3 percent and registered 33 assists, a good sign of solid team basketball. The Warriors had a balanced attack led by Lee's 29 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Curry had 12 assists to go with his 26 points, and Thompson added 22 on 8-of-11 shooting.
And then there was Bogut. The 7-foot center participated in the morning shoot-around at the Warriors' downtown Oakland practice facility, then went through a pregame workout at Oracle. But it wasn't known until 20 minutes before tipoff that he was going to play, let alone start.
Bogut responded with his first 30-minute game of the season -- technically, 29:54 -- and provided sorely needed presence inside. He scored just four points -- including a dunk on a Curry lob near the end of the first half -- but added eight rebounds, an assist and a block. The dunk brought the sellout crowd of 19,596 -- and the Warriors bench -- to its feet.
"For our guys, it was a wow moment," Jackson said. "We haven't seen it, but we've expected it. We know who he is, we know what he's capable of doing."
After playing games on back-to-back nights for the first time since missing 38 consecutive games with left ankle issues, Bogut abruptly went down again Feb. 22 complaining of back spasms, which an MRI revealed were caused by a bulging disk.
Bogut, who originally had planned to come back Wednesday against Sacramento, said he made dramatic improvement in recent days and did some contact drills at the shoot-around that convinced him he was ready to go.
"It's been a frustrating time for me, but I'm just trying to push through it," Bogut said. "I feel like I'm close, and hopefully this was my last injury of the season.
Marciulionis also attended the game to watch Toronto center and countryman Jonas Valanciunas, a promising rookie from Lithuania. Valanciunas is the subject of a recently released documentary titled "The Other Dream Team," which documents Lithuanian basketball players' experiences before and after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain, leading up to Lithuania's historic Olympic bronze medal win over Russia in 1992.
Marciulionis held a brief session with the media before the game and said he never resented former coach Don Nelson's harsh coaching methods when Marciulionis was a young player with Golden State.
"People were saying I should leave the team because of the way he was yelling at me," Marciulionis said. "But it didn't bother me because I didn't understand what (Nelson) was saying."
Sacramento (21-40) at Warriors (34-27), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA