LOS ANGELES -- Why does Mark Jackson say what he says, pick the fights he picks and occasionally conjure elaborate grudges and feuds out of thin air?

This is why: For Game 1 at Staples Center and for all moments like this.

This is what he does: Jackson turned his talented team into a bunch of snarling, snapping underdogs pushed into an emotional fever pitch.

That's how it works for Jackson, when it works.

Oh yes, it worked powerfully in the Warriors' slugfest 109-105 upset victory to open this best-of-seven series against the favored Clippers.

It might not work forever, but it could push the Warriors for a good while longer, if Jackson has anything to do with it.

"The biggest thing is we felt like we have nothing to lose coming into this series," Warriors forward David Lee said.

"We feel like this is two very good basketball teams, we're a little bit short-handed, so our goal tonight was to come out aggressive."

The sixth-seeded Warriors are, of course, without injured center Andrew Bogut, one of their foundation pieces.

And they entered this series understanding that few experts gave them a shot against Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the third-seeded Clippers, who happen to be the Warriors' most detested rival.

Which is exactly what Jackson wanted his players to hear and feel.

Is there talk that Jackson's job is in jeopardy? Great, let's hear more please.

Due to the Bogut injury, are his players at a disadvantage at several positions? Wonderful, keep talking.

Is Staples Center primed for a Clippers triumph, starting with an all-out assault on the Warriors in the first minutes?

Jackson and his players live for that stuff and define themselves by punching back at it.

The Warriors survived the Clippers' ferocious 12-1 start, figured out how to beat the Clippers' double-team clamping of Stephen Curry, and just outlasted and outworked anybody who came up against them.

It wasn't a beautiful game -- the Warriors committed 21 turnovers, the Clippers 17 -- but that's not really who the Warriors are any more.

This was a game for Draymond Green's bumps and screams, a game for Klay Thompson to step into several momentous end-game shots, and for Harrison Barnes to momentarily reverse an entire season's worth of disappointing play.

This was a game that the Warriors found some luck when Griffin got into huge early foul trouble, but that's part of the deal in every playoff game.

These days, the Warriors are brawlers who embrace the rancor ... and need it, really.

"When you look at the make-up of this basketball team individually and collectively, they're fighters," Jackson said.

"I'm not supposed to be coaching, got no experience. Steph Curry's supposed to be, you know, retired because of his ankle. David Lee was a loser.

"Jermaine O'Neal's supposed to be finished. Harrison Barnes dropped in the draft. Klay Thompson, how can he be sitting with that talent at No. 11 in the draft?"

Was Jackson going into full hyperbole mode there? Of course.

That's who he is and that's why it can be a bumpy and inconsistent ride with him.

But when you wonder why he needs to go to such extremes, just look to this game and this series, now that the Clippers are suddenly under extreme pressure to win Game 2 on Monday.

Or look to the Warriors' first-round upset of Denver last season ... or who knows what next.

If they're aggrieved, the Warriors are dangerous. And for however long this lasts, they'll use the Bogut injury, the predictions and the Jackson intrigue to power up the wattage.

It's their fuel, their fortification, their entire existence.

"Today, you saw no weakness," center Jermaine O'Neal said. "You saw no doubt. You just saw, 'OK, what do we have to do next?' "

In this game, the ancient O'Neal was the one throwing down wild dunks in the faces of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, two of the most electrifying jumpers in the league.

And it was Lee who bounced back from a very shaky start to score 16 huge points in the second half by slicing to the rim whenever the Clippers over-committed to Curry ... and dishing it to O'Neal if the defense over-rotated again.

Jackson calls that fighting back against critics; most of us would just say it was great basketball.

"I got off to a little bit of a slow start," Lee said. "Really, because of getting hurt last year, really this was my first playoff game tonight.

"So, got off to a little bit of a slow start and once again like our team I just tried to be resilient and guys told me to keep being aggressive."

That's how this team operates in the biggest moments, under the brightest lights, and when its coach is nudging it and nudging it.

The Warriors need slights and grudges, and if they don't exist, then Mark Jackson will happily and rapidly invent them.

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