His sprained right ankle was still a bit sore, and he'd already logged 36 minutes. But with the game in the balance, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry ramped up the defense.

He pressured New Orleans point guard Greivis Vasquez up the court. He held his ground when isolated one-on-one against Hornets off guard Eric Gordon. Then, after mistakenly cheating into the paint, he desperately hurried to contest Vasquez's game-tying 3-point attempt.

"We've got to do whatever we've got to do to win," said Curry, who returned to action Saturday after missing two games.

This is what survival mode looks like. So far, it's working.

Golden State (24-15) has lost five of its last seven games, two of them humiliating blowouts. Yet, they flew home Saturday night still nine games above .500, still holding the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.

The Warriors have won several games they needed to win -- hanging on at home against Portland, rallying from behind in New Orleans -- to stave off the spiraling slide.

The schedule is currently torturous, and their best players are hobbled with ankle injuries. But they're enduring this inevitable storm by abandoning appearances clinging to their chemistry and pushing every button.

"Everything goes through a tough stretch, maybe two or three," backup power forward Carl Landry said. "When I came into the league, veterans on my team in Houston told me there are four times a year