Photo: Scott Kinser/AP

Dennis Smith Jr. is nothing but ecstatic to clinch some small, personal wins and prove a statement for the Charlotte Hornets against the Golden State Warriors.

Smith Jr., who was handed by the Hornets a veteran’s minimum deal prior this season, had a game of his career on Saturday, and it became even much sweeter because it resulted in a win against the defending champions.

The win on the second part of their back-to-back games was such a special thing to live on for the journeyman guard.

“I think it’s special for two reasons,” Smith Jr. said, according to Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “It’s a back-to-back. We got blasted and came back and had to protect home court. We won a back-to-back when we were 2-13 on those last year. And then it was an overtime game, and I think we were bad in overtime games last year. So just the game plan that coach had, and we had the discipline to execute.

“We did a great job of that and got a win against the defending champs.”

The Hornets can’t ask for a better chance to deliver a bounce back display. They were thrashed by the Orlando Magic last Friday on the road, and this recent win against the Dubs has cured the soreness it provided.

The former lottery pick played a huge role in this success. Besides dropping a near-triple double of 13 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in an increased role with LaMelo Ball still out, his two-way impact lived on in front of superstar Stephen Curry.

“Smith stayed home and made Steph take a tough shot,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said about the young guard. “So he did a really good job.”

Smith Jr. was fearless down the stretch on both sides of the floor. He tied the game to 107 by blowing by against the reigning Finals MVP, and following it up by a clamping on the three-point line.

He continued his splendid work going into overtime. Smith Jr. provided two major ways for Jalen McDaniels and PJ Washington to extend the Hornets’ momentum to power the energetic Charlotte crowd, and even drove to the cup for a two-point layup.

“I thought Dennis Smith Jr. was a real key to the game tonight,” Kerr continued. “He hit a couple of big threes. His defense was really impressive the whole game. Steph got his points, but Dennis made him work.”

As such, Smith Jr. stands grateful for the love and acknowledgement in his contributions, as he continues to fight for that love for the game.

“That means a lot to me,” Smith Jr. said about Kerr’s commend. “I appreciate that. I had to work my (butt) off this summer. A lot of people were trying to say, ‘Oh, he shouldn’t be in the league,’ this, that and the third. Just having to tune all of that out and lock in and to be able to come in and execute and win a game against those guys, shoot that means the world to me. 

“It means a lot to my family to see me do that and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”