OAKLAND -- Draymond Green has a standard philosophy when he goes into a ballgame and his team is in trouble.
"Whatever we're not doing, I go in and try to do it," Green said Wednesday night after the Warriors rallied from 18 points down to beat the Dallas Mavericks 95-93 at Oracle Arena on Stephen Curry's 19-foot jumper with three seconds left.
Curry was the lead hero, to be sure, rallying himself and the Warriors from another slow start. He finished with 33 points and 10 assists, and essentially broke down the Dallas defense on his own for the wide-open winning shot.
But one also could have made a strong hero case for Green, the Warriors' second-year forward who down the stretch shut down Dirk Nowitzki defensively, set up many of Curry's big shots offensively and also made a 3-pointer of his own with 49.9 seconds left that gave Golden State its first lead since early in the game.
Green logged 28 minutes and played the entire fourth quarter as the Warriors put themselves in position for another big comeback after cutting the deficit to six points entering the fourth quarter.
"Usually when I go in, what we need is defending or energy -- we're lacking one of the two or both," he said. "If we're losing, that's probably what it is."
Green also brings savvy, as he demonstrated in the crucial final minutes with a brilliant cross-court pass to Curry in the corner for a 3-pointer, and again when he set a screen for Curry on a four-point play.
In short, without Green's effort, the Warriors don't pull this game out and Curry doesn't have what he claimed was his first buzzer-beating game-winner since high school.
"I don't know (Michigan State coach) Tom Izzo personally, but one thing I do know about him is he's not a liar," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "He said Draymond Green is a winner, and he is absolutely a winner. He does absolutely everything on the basketball floor to put you in position to win ballgames."
If Green is so good at the end of games, maybe he should be in at the beginning of them, too?
Having fallen behind in the first quarter in 12 of their previous 22 games -- losing eight of those games -- the Warriors hoped to avoid another stumble out of the blocks coming back home after a three-game road trip. But once again, they had to climb out another deep hole.
"It's a tough period for us," Curry said. "We talked about it yesterday, this morning, before the game, to come out with energy. We did on the defensive end, but offensively we weren't clicking."
Indeed, the Warriors did get off to a 10-7 advantage but made just 6 of 24 shots in the first quarter (25 percent) with Curry and Klay Thompson going 0 for 6 as Dallas forged a 23-16 first-quarter advantage.
The Mavericks kept building on that lead throughout the second quarter and led by 18 with 2:19 to go in the first half on the second of back-to-back 3-pointers by Nowitzki.
Golden State put a dent in the deficit in the final two minutes of the half as Thompson hit a pair of 3-pointers and Curry and David Lee hit driving layups to make it 55-44 Dallas at intermission. The Warriors kept chipping away throughout the second half and finally pushed it over the top when Green hit from beyond the arc to put Golden State up for the first time since early in the first quarter, 93-92
Monta Ellis was fouled with 46.8 seconds left and hit one of two foul shots to tie it at 93-all. Curry missed a running layup, and Ellis missed at the other end, setting up Curry's game-winner from the right wing.
"We didn't call a timeout, so they didn't get a chance to get their defense set," Curry said. "I ... kind of lulled him (Shawn Marion) to sleep with a pump fake and got a good look at it and thankfully it went in."
Houston (15-7) at Warriors (13-10), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA
Warriors' Jermaine O'Neal expects verdict on injured wrist Thursday. PAGE 4
Thompson: Draymond Green comes up clutch late in game. Read the full column at www.mercurynews.com/marcus-thompson.