OAKLAND, Calif. -- Defensive-minded Mark Jackson says he doesn't want his Golden State Warriors to be a team that has to win games on the offensive end.
OK, so maybe Jackson might want to revise that notion a bit. A little more offense than what Golden State cobbled together Wednesday night might be advisable to go along with the defensive tenacity the Warriors rediscovered in an 87-83 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors limited the Kings to 39.8 percent shooting and were markedly improved at both their interior and perimeter defense. Alas, they shot just 36 percent themselves and needed a Klay Thompson three-point basket from the corner with 7.5 seconds left to salvage the night.
The Kings, who rallied from a nine-point third-quarter deficit, took an 83-82 lead after a Patrick Patterson corner 3 with 1:25 left. Thompson missed a shorter jumper with 37.9 seconds left, and the Warriors needed a defensive stop.
They got it with 15.2 seconds left, and in a nice bit of execution, David Lee took a pass from Stephen Curry at the top of the key, started to drive but then saw Thompson wide open in the corner beyond the arc.
And this time Thompson buried it.
"D-Lee did a great job of hitting me right in the shooting pocket, and I got it off quick," said Thompson, who led the Warriors with 20 points. "It was a pretty easy shot, honestly. I love shooting from the corner. It honestly felt great when it left my hand."
But the job wasn't done for Thompson. At the other end of the floor, he had to deal with the Kings' Tyreke Evans, who tried to drive to the basket but missed an 8-foot pull-up jumper with one second left. Draymond Green got the rebound, was fouled and salted the game away at the line.
But the final 10 seconds was pretty much all Thompson heroics. The defensive stop on Evans may have been as big as the game-winning jumper.
"He's a really strong right-handed driver, and I was kind of anticipating that, so I just tried to contest the shot," Thompson said. "I think I did a pretty good job of staying with him."
The second-year guard also thought the Warriors had their best defensive night in weeks.
"It was great, it won us the game," Thompson said. "We weren't exactly an offensive force tonight, but our defense kept us in it.
"Deep in the season, you're going to have to grind out some wins. They were a big defensive challenge for us because they have some guys who can score, but we rose to the challenge."
The Warriors could just never put this game away. They led by 10 points in the first quarter and nine late in the third, but Sacramento kept clawing back thanks in large part to Golden State's inability to find the range -- 11 for 31 in the second half (35.5 percent) and just 4 for 17 in the fourth quarter (23.5 percent). Fortunately for the Warriors, one of the four shots that went in was Thompson's finale.
"At this point in the season, we'll take a win any way we can get it," Lee said. "Our defense was much improved, and if we're going to get to where want to get this year, we have to play defense like that "-- and I think our offense will be just fine."
One player who set the defensive tempo early was Festus Ezeli. The rookie center had a nice night with six rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes off the bench. He even converted a rare three-point play in the second quarter.
"Festus did an amazing job," Lee said. "And his flip-layup-and-one is something he's been working on for a while. He really set the tone for us. If we can get that out of him in the 15-20 minutes he plays, it's going to be huge for us down the stretch."
It was the second straight hard-earned fourth-quarter victory for the Warriors, and one that helped them gain a little breathing room in the NBA Western Conference playoff race. With both Houston and Utah losing, Golden State solidified its grip on the No. 6 spot with 20 games left in the regular season.
Lee had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Curry had 13 points and eight assists.
Jason Thompson led the Kings with 17 points on a night when Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins was a non-factor with just five points in 20 minutes.
-- Warriors owner Joe Lacob said the team is still looking to fill at least one of the two vacancies on the roster with the roughly $294,000 it has to spend under the luxury tax threshold. That may not sound like much, but prorated over the remaining 20 games, it could net a credible player.
Lacob wouldn't address specific names, but one player whose name came up during Jackson's pre-game press briefing was swingman Dominic McGuire, who is currently out of an NBA job. McGuire played well for Golden State last season, particularly defensively.
Jackson has veto power over any player the club might want to sign. It doesn't sound like he'd veto McGuire.
"He was great for us, and I have a lot of love for him," Jackson said. "I appreciate his professionalism, the way he battled, the way he competed. ". . . I'm very comfortable and confident in our guys. But we will talk, ownership and management, and make a decision which way we will go. Dominic McGuire is a guy who's out there."
-- The Warriors had lost 10 of their past 14 games, and Jackson believed it primarily was a result of what's happened on the defensive end. "We've gone through a tough stretch," he said. "If we expect not just to make the playoffs but to do the damage we want to do, we have to be better."
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