On the biggest basketball stage in the world, under the stress of returning for the first time to play against his old team, and in the very heart of De-rek Je-ter land, David Lee unveiled to Warriors fans just what it is that they have finally acquired. A beast on the boards. A rock in the middle. A finisher. A closer. A winner.
A captain. I have a suspicion that Warriors fans — as Yankee fans do with Derek Jeter — are going to be chanting David Lee’s name for years to come.
There is a lot to choose from in describing Lee’s performance in this game. Keith Smart finally decided to give him the ball, and Lee rewarded that decision by showing us his full offensive arsenal. Posting up Mozgov and going right around him. The jump hook with his right hand over Chandler. Facing up Stoudemire and steamrolling him to the hoop for the And-One. The spectacular tip pass to Brandan Wright (that Wright naturally wasn’t ready for and lost out of bounds). The high post play. The pick and rolls with Curry.
And of course he was there for the Warriors in the middle. Call me evil, but I got a big thrill when he knocked Wilson Chandler’s tooth out on a ferocious rebound. How long has it been since we’ve seen comparable ferocity and power from a Warriors big man? (I will bet you that Brandan Wright doesn’t knock out anyone’s tooth in his entire NBA career. In fact, I will lay odds. It may be years before Brandan Wright even touches someone.)
But it was down the stretch that Lee was spectacular, playing through that nasty gash on his elbow. With 30 seconds left in the game and the Warriors up 3, Curry and Lee executed a perfect pick and roll that resulted in Lee getting fouled. And then Lee, after almost passing out from getting whacked on his macerated elbow, stepped to the line and — with blood pouring through his heavy bandage — calmly drained both free throws to put the Warriors up 5.
And then on the key defensive possession of the game, it was Lee who snagged the long rebound, and Lee again who drained both free throws to seal the victory.
How long has it been since the Warriors had a big man who could finish a game for them? A go-to man in the clutch? Please do not say Chris Webber. Webber was never a go-to man, at any point in his career. Never.
David Lee is.
It wasn’t exactly a Curt Schilling bloody-sock World Series performance. But for this long-suffering Warriors fan it was close. God help me, it was close. It’s been a long time in the desert. But from where I stand I can see the Promised Land.
Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, and Da-vid Lee-ee.
Monta Ellis: Stepped up for his teammates big time by playing this game. He’s finally growing into those captain shoes.
He did foul Felton on that hopeless jumper down the stretch. It’s about time he stopped that.
Stephen Curry: Is it possible for an NBA player to be absolutely brilliant when absolutely gassed? It is for Stephen Curry.
The Warriors have a desperate need for an NBA-ready backup point guard.
Dorell Wright: Quietly great all game long. Take a look at Gallinari’s 3-9 line.
And then he hit that big-time clutch three.
Andris Biedrins: Still 0 for the season from the line.
Reggie Williams: I think he can do more. I think he should be playing the point while the Warriors don’t have a backup. But at least Smart used him ahead of Carney at the three.
Brandan Wright: Curry made him look good on a few pick and rolls, but anyone who liked this performance wasn’t watching the defensive end. Is it possible to be late on every single defensive rotation?
He also blew a point blank dunk by bringing the ball down before he went up. Jim Barnett noted: “Keith Smart has talked to Brandan Wright about that extensively this season.” Extensively? How many times does he need to be told?He’s a third year pro, for pete’s sake.
It’s a mystery.
Vlad Rad: Smart’s first choice to be eaten alive by Amare Stoudemire. Then it was Brandan Wright’s turn.
Jeremy Lin: Terrific on defense, not ready on offense. I loved Smart’s quick hook. Rookies must be taught.
But Lin needs the D-League.
Rodney Carney: Terrible this game defensively and on the boards. The rap on him is low IQ. Can Smart get through to him?
Keith Smart: I loved the way he coached this game, but if he had blown this win by resting Monta Ellis and David Lee in crunch time, while the Knicks went on an 8-0 run to close to within 3… would the local media have called him on it?
Anthony Randolph: Who?