By: Jesse Taylor
Reader’s Note: Over the next two weeks, WarriorsWorld will examine the play of David Lee, easily the most polarizing player on the Warriors. We are providing an unbiased look by watching David Lee, and only David Lee, on both ends of the floor for a stretch of games ending with the Lakers at Oracle Arena on December 22. Our second installment of “The David Lee Watch” follows the matchup at Charlotte on December 10.
CSN has acquiesced to my wishes and shows an even better shot of the David Lee/Steph Curry Rocky and Apollo footrace. And Lee wins the race! Unfortunately, there’s no giant bear hug or jumping up and down. And we even get a less awkward handshake hug this time. Nice job fellas. I still don’t get what the hell the point of that race is.
As usual, opening tip-off goes as follows: Festus Ezeli taps to Lee who hands to Curry. Warriors ball to start game.
Who’s guarding Lee? Shot-blocker extraordinaire Bismack Biyombo (damn, I’m going to have to type that name a lot in this post and will need to double check it each time). Biyombo looks like Tyrese Gibson’s not-quite-as-handsome younger brother. Tyrese is easier to spell. Can I just call Biyombo that? Yes? Cool, thanks.
So for the second straight game, Lee should have an easy night on the defensive end. Tyrese may have less game than Chris Singleton. Well, not the real Tyrese. The real Tyrese has major game. Just not on the court. Anyone who was in Transformers, Fast Five and Moesha has to be getting a lot of ass.
Speaking of ass, the Charlotte offense now has the ball and Byron Mullens misses a jumper. Lee blocks out nicely, but Tyrese snatches the ball away from him for a new Bobcats’ possession.
On the Warriors’ second possession, Curry and Lee perform a pick-and-roll at the top of the key, and Tyrese and Kemba Walker play worse defense than my 2nd grade CYO team. A wide-open Lee takes a pass from Curry and glides in unguarded for an open layup. 2-0 Warriors.
Lee is now guarding Mullens and is putting in work, forcing him off the block and into a missed turnaround jumper. A few possessions later, Mullens misses a long jumper and Lee sneaks out as Curry rebounds and finds him down the court for an easy layup, with a foul on Mullens. Lee hits the free throw and has five points.
Lee’s been talking a lot on D again to open the game. Let’s see if he can keep it up. He stopped at possession #3 last game. Maybe each game he can improve his vocal chord conditioning and last a bit longer as the season progresses.
(Post-game note: Nope. That possession was the last time he did it).
Lee’s playing at the top of the key in a zone and Mullens hits an open three – from the top of the key. Lee went too deep as he tried to help down low, allowing for the open shot off a kick-out pass.
Around the 8-minute mark, Lee takes a nice pass from Klay Thompson, goes right at Tyrese and hangs in the air nicely to finish a tough layup. He has seven and the Warriors lead 11-7.
The Bobcats are posting up Mullens on Lee and Lee forces him to miss another jumper. Not sure why Mullens isn’t trying to challenge Lee more in the post. Oh yeah, because Mullens is soft.
After watching yet another hilarious and confusing Kent Bazemore celebration following Curry’s nifty up-and-under scoop layup, I think my next writing assignment will be called “The Bazemore Bench Watch.” He’s the best.
Warriors up 20-9 when Lee finds himself alone on defense with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist attacking him. Can Lee stop hi… Whoa, that was a quick dunk. I think Lee is still attempting to guard that drive even though Kidd-Gilchrist is already back on D at the other end.
Luckily, Lee is in an amazing offensive flow as of late and he gets back on offense in time to post the Kentucky kid up for a nice lefty jump hook off the glass. 22-11 with Lee at nine points on 4-4 on field goals. I thought Chris Sheridan was nuts for ranking him #4 on his MVP race list. And now? Sheridan is still nuts, but damn if Lee isn’t playing some very good basketball at the moment.
Okay, let’s not over analyze this. The Bobcats are a bad team. Their defense follows the four “Ps” – it’s porous, piss poor and soft like protoplasm (five “Ps” if you count the two in “protoplasm”). Example: Lee was standing alone under the basket for a few seconds before Curry sling-shot (shotted? shoot? shut?) a nice pass to him for a tomahawk-ish jam. Right before that, Harrison Barnes found Ezeli in the same spot all alone for a dunk.
It’s 28-13. Let’s skip ahead to see if Lee has any real meaningful moments in this game. Posting up a much smaller Kidd-Gilchrist is not telling us much. Neither is his ability to leak out for layups on poorly missed Bobcat shots. But that was a sick football pass from Klay.
Hold up. Lee is guarding DeSagana Diop now. This Heat game can’t come soon enough.
Lee is 8-10 from the field after hitting a college three-pointer to start the second half. He then tosses a beautiful back-door pass to Curry who misses the layup.
Lee can pass. He can rebound. He’s been hitting clutch shots lately. He may end up being an All-Star, but if I’m choosing sides, I sill wouldn’t take him over Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Davis or Kenneth Faried. And that’s just the Western Conference.
But in truth, he’s right there with all those guys when you factor in Tim and Dirk being old.
Play that epitomizes the game so far: Mullens shoots an airball three-pointer that rockets down off Tyrese’s face and out of bounds.
Nice sequence for Lee: Klay misses a three, Lee taps out the rebound to Curry, Curry gives it back to Lee for another long jumper. 72-58 with 6:18 left in the third. Lee has 21 points. And he’s not even the hottest guy on the team. That would be Curry. But we all know that the real Tyrese is the hottest guy, right? Wait, what? Hey, check out that play!
Lee runs over Mullens on a drive, gets called for the charge and subs out with 4:01 to go in the third. It’s 81-64. He re-enters with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter and the score 97-79 as the bench grew the lead by four. Now for the inevitable fourth quarter let-up.
Yup. Some forced shots, lazy defense, and now it’s 97-85.
Warriors post up Lee to try to end the drought and Lee … is stripped by Kidd-Gilchrist, recovers the balls, gets tangled up and nearly throws it away. Landry grabs the loose ball but is called for a foul. That was not a clutch play to put a bad team away.
Lee grabs a big defensive rebound on the other end, gets the ball back, is fouled and hits two free throws. That’s better. But Kidd-Gilchrist comes back on Draymond Green, scoring on a play that, if it had been Lee, we would have criticized Lee for.
Lee steps up again, getting in great position to tip in an offensive rebound. 101-87 at the 5:24 mark. But Lee and Thompson don’t pick up Kidd-Gilchrist for Green, who crashed the offensive glass and couldn’t get back, and an alley-oop dunk makes it 101-89.
Lee makes a mental mistake, not realizing the shot clock didn’t reset. He posts up but doesn’t even try to get a shot off with 1.4 seconds left and the Warriors commit a violation. Probably wouldn’t have gotten a good shot anyway, but Bobcats score to make it a 10-point game. Warriors other than Lee keep missing shots. Lee joins them at the 2:34 mark when Tyrese stuffs him at the rim.
Tough defensive rebound by Lee on the other end though as clock keeps ticking and Warriors keep missing. Jackson doesn’t seem to be helping much in terms of setting up the team for decent shots here. Sloppy play and missed shots as Warriors hold on 104-96.
Another excellent performance from Lee. He finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds and helped the team to a big lead. But for the second straight game, he wasn’t challenged whatsoever on the defensive side of the ball. He scored just four points in the final quarter-and-a-half … technically, the final nine minutes since that’s when he checked by in. And he didn’t score in the final 5:24 of the game as the Bobcats chipped away at the big lead. But this was less about Lee’s performance in the clutch and more about him not having access to the ball. Jackson probably should have called a few more plays for Lee down the stretch as he was regularly beating the Bobcats.
Now comes the challenge for Lee, as he will finish the road trip with Chris Bosh, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who hurt him in Oakland, and Josh Smith.