Programming note: Hornets-Warriors coverage starts Saturday at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
OAKLAND -- Draymond Green didn't dodge the question, didn't care what anyone thought of his answers, which came not from a bag of cliché but from his heart.
Yes, he said, he took note of his personal opponent Thursday night.
Yes, he added, he took particular pride in being assigned Kevin Garnett.
Yes, yes, yes, competing against a future Hall of Famer touched him and provided motivation.
"He's been in the league 20 years. I'm 24. So put that into perspective," Green said. "I've been watching him my entire life. To sit here and say, 'Aw, that doesn't matter,' I'd be lying. I'd be pretty crazy to stay that.
"It was an honor to play against guys like that. KG has dominated this league for years. He's a champion in this league. He's a perennial All-Star, definitely a Hall of Famer. Yeah, you want to compete with him and you want to do all you can to outdo him and play well. But I'm not that tough guy who's going to say it doesn't matter. It definitely matters. He's one of legends of my time."
So no, this was not just another game against another opponent. The Warriors outlasted the Nets 107-99 at Oracle Arena mostly because Green mashed the 38-year-old Garnett and anybody else who got in his way.
"Draymond was fantastic," coach Steve Kerr said.
Green put his fingerprints all over the victory, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two blocked shots and a steal in 33 minutes. Though Green had help from all sides -- from Klay Thompson's 25 points to Andrew Bogut's 14 rebounds to Marreese Speights' fine production off the bench -- he was the catalyst.
"He's gotten so much better in the last few weeks," Kerr said. "In camp, he was forcing everything because he wanted to score. His patience has really shown now. He's taking better shots and moving the ball when he's supposed to."
Green is in the starting lineup only because Lee, the incumbent, has been hampered by a hamstring injury that could sideline him for at least another week. The third-year forward is exploiting the opportunity. On this night, he exploited a proud, aging warrior he clearly has studied.
Green is in many ways a mini-Garnett, five inches shorter but with an all-around game, a high hoops IQ and a similarly high-strung persona.
"I remember the KG that was dunking on everybody, jumping and pounding his chest," he said. "I remember that KG. So to play against him, it's always amazing."
Well, yes, never more than when you triumph.
THE GOOD: Committing only 11 turnovers. Though the reduction was equal parts Warriors execution and Nets sluggishness, it doesn't matter. The numbers dropped. The Warriors have to start somewhere, and time will tell if this was the night.
After getting only one offensive rebound on Tuesday, the Warriors nabbed 14.
Green was spectacular, of course, but so were Bogut and Speights.
Bogut finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four blocked shots and a steal to take a decisive personal victory over Nets center Brook Lopez, who had 18 points (on 7-of-17 shooting), five rebounds, no assists, no blocks and no steals.
Speights played 16 minutes, mostly in relief of Bogut, and left with a nice stat line: Eight points along with season highs in rebounds (nine) and blocks (three).
Andre Iguodala showed signs of zeal, particularly in the second quarter, which climaxed when he went coast-to-coast and soared in for a dunk.
Ringing 30 assists on 41 baskets surely delighted ball movement aficionados.
THE BAD: Though the Warriors didn't always dazzle, they didn't harm themselves and nothing was awful. The worse that can be said, I suppose, is that sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to miss 20 of their 34 shots.
THE TAKE: The Warriors continue to search for a showcase game. This was superb in terms of valuing the ball, and they edged an aging team on the glass. But the Warriors didn't shoot particularly well, allowing the Nets to stay in the game much longer than they should have. They won this one because everybody pitched in, no one more than Green.