SACRAMENTO – The Warriors summoned enough grit and gumption to outlast the Kings on Sunday largely because Stephen Curry realized they were short on both elements the last time they played.
So Curry took action, despite his image as a baby-faced long-distance shooter.
Faced with a rugged, plucky opponent in a hostile building, Curry consciously decided he needed to do all he could to prevent another heartbreak loss, as had occurred last Friday at Oklahoma City.
In the final, decisive minutes of a game that could have gone either way, Curry wanted the ball in his hands, clearly determined to deliver the 115-113 victory.
"He took over," center Andrew Bogut said.
With a few momentary exceptions, the final eight minutes of the game belonged to Curry. One possession after another, the fifth-year point guard found a way to make an impact, putting on a display of leadership that won't soon be forgotten by those watching on TV or witnesses at Sleep Train Arena.
After two Harrison Barnes free throws provided a 98-87 lead with 8:01 left, the Kings came charging back. Though The Warriors responded by turning mostly to Curry, who scored 12 of their final 17 points, consistently scorching pesky Sacramento guard Isaiah Thomas.
"It's been frustrating of late, not being able to close out games, especially on the road," Curry said. "Everybody stepped up and made plays."
There was Klay Thompson's clutch 3-pointer with 2:54 to play. There was Draymond Green's tip of a Curry miss to give the Warriors a 113-111 lead with 28.7 seconds to play. There was Bogut's big block at the end to preserve the win.
Mostly, though, there was Curry, feeling under the weather but willing his team to victory. His two free throws with 8.6 seconds left were the difference.
"Every shot he took was contested – heavily contested," Thomas said. "You've got to take your hat off to a guy like that. He hit some tough shots and carried his team."
"Steph was incredible," coach Mark Jackson said, "especially for a guy we didn't know what we were going to get from him today."
The Warriors got 36 points, 23 in the second half. They got three steals and 10 assists – but also seven turnovers.
Most of all, they got what they needed in the wake of their last-second loss to the Thunder.
"We let one slip away in OKC," Bogut said. "We played like absolute crap in Dallas. Today we didn't play well, but we competed. We're thankful we can take that hour-and-a-half bus ride with guys talking to each other. Because that OKC loss sat with us for a couple days."
THE GOOD: Thompson through the first three quarters, scoring 25 of his 28 points and limiting Ben McLemore to one field goal. Bogut grabbed 12 rebounds and managed three fourth-quarter blocks. Green came off the bench with 9 points, five rebounds and four assists. And, of course, Curry.
The Warriors scored 33 points off 24 Sacramento turnovers. Some of the credit goes to the Dubs, but even more blame falls on the Kings.
THE BAD: The Warriors were outrebounded 39-32, with Sacramento's primary forwards (Derrick Williams, Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson) combining for 21 in a cumulative 76 minutes while the Warriors' foursome of David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights and Green collected 12 in 107 minutes.
THE FUTURE: The Warriors on Monday will conduct a brief practice at their facility, then face Toronto on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. The Raptors have not won in Oakland since Feb. 8, 2004.