OAKLAND -- Through the desperation and swells of mini-panic, the Warriors survived Game 6 somehow.

And maybe, as they were slugging and sweating with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, the Warriors saw this epic series tilt back their way with one last round to go.

Somehow.

How? It's really unexplainable and possibly unfathomable.

It's probably unanswerable, except that it's perfectly fitting for the rumbling and rambunctious context of this rampaging first-round series.

And after the Warriors pulled out this 100-99 victory Thursday, with Clippers star Chris Paul's health status suddenly in major question, you could suddenly give the Warriors at least a 50/50 shot to win Game 7 on Saturday at Staples Center.

Mostly, on Thursday the Warriors out-wrestled and out-gasped the Clippers, who were almost as desperate and just as battered.

"That's who we are," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We've proven that ... I'm proud of my guys. It's been an incredible, incredible ride ...

"I'm proud of our guys. It wasn't our best night. We missed 14 free throws, shoot 39 percent from the field and we won the ballgame. I look forward to Game 7."

It wasn't beautiful basketball, but it was meaningful -- you saw that in every play of this four-quarter struggle.

The Warriors watched center Jermaine O'Neal go down and others get into foul trouble but saw reserves Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights and Jordan Crawford jump in and produce.

The Warriors didn't shoot well (39.3 percent), but their defense hounded the Clippers into even worse shooting (36.8 percent).

So what happens in Game 7? There is no way to know, because every game of this series has been impossible to predict.

Which is exactly the way the upstart Warriors love it.

"I'm excited to see this young basketball team experience a Game 7 on the road," Jackson said.

"It's going to be a lot of fun, because a lot of folks didn't think we were going to be here."

In an overheated atmosphere at Oracle Arena (turn on the air conditioner, please!), these two teams played with sweaty, sloppy desperation.

"Neither team shot the ball well; it was one of those hustle games," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

"Give them credit. I thought they came up with just enough plays to beat us."

After all the drama and Donald Sterling controversy swirling through this series, Game 6 -- and maybe the whole thing -- came down to two battered and frenetic teams swinging away wildly.

Paul, who has been having hamstring issues, could barely run from the start of this game and was clearly hobbled throughout.

Paul played 34 minutes but was ineffective offensively and struggled to cover Stephen Curry all game.

If Paul isn't much closer to 100 percent Saturday, this whole series could have tilted right there.

"He's dealing with a lot of stuff," Rivers said, "but, listen, he's on the floor and Golden State doesn't care, bottom line.

"He does have injuries, and there is no doubt about that. I'm sure they have some too, but, listen, I think once you're on the floor, you're on the floor."

The Warriors, meanwhile, lost O'Neal in the second quarter after taking a bad hit from L.A.'s Glen Davis, which left them without any true center.

O'Neal suffered a knee strain and did not return to the game.

But Draymond Green overwhelmed Clippers star power forward Blake Griffin on both sides of the floor, and that keyed everything else for the Warriors.

The Warriors were, of course, playing to avoid elimination and to push this to Game 7.

They were also, to some extent, playing to help save Jackson's job, at least for a few more days.

"We made mistakes, but they battled," Jackson said.

It was all desperation, very little precision, and both teams knew there was no way to turn back.

Now Paul is wounded, and the Warriors are still there.

The Warriors survived for another game, and another few days, and if you just stay alive, you never know what can happen next.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@ mercurynews.com.