Editor’s note: Games 2 and 3 (and 5, 6 and 7 if necessary) of Warriors-Clippers will air on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Bookmark this page for comprehensive coverage of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
LOS ANGELES – David Lee went from awful to awesome in about 20 minutes during Game 1 of the Warriors-Clippers series. It was as simple as slowing his pulse rate.
After seeing Lee begin the game with the energy of a caffeinated field rabbit, Warriors coach Mark Jackson mercifully pulled his power forward and sat him the bench, where he could breathe deeply and find a modicum of serenity.
After his first trip to the playoffs ended quickly and painfully last season, Lee was beyond excited to be back. It showed. Doing everything at a frenzied pace, he was killing the Warriors.
He wound up saving them.
"He got aggressive offensively,'' Jackson said. "Defensively, he battled and competed. He rebounded the basketball. He was very good. We need him to be that way offensively."
Jackson's praise is directed at Lee's second half, which was remarkably proficient: 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists and manipulating Clippers forward Blake Griffin into foul trouble and eventual disqualification.
This all came after Lee submitted as many turnovers (four) as points in the first half, while committing as many fouls (three) as he grabbed rebounds. He opened the game by committing three turnovers in the first 67 seconds, crimes that fit the punishment of being benched.
How bad was it? Upon being replaced by Draymond Green, Lee actually apologized to the coach for his performance.
"I just went to him and said 'sorry' for a few early mistakes,'' Lee said.
Lee described himself as going "a million miles an hour,'' telling Jackson he would settle and recalibrate. Jackson expressed confidence that he would, and he did.
"Part of it was just trying a little too hard, trying too make a little bit too much happen,'' Lee said. "But that's all out of my system now. I look forward to coming out, as the rest of the team is, and playing well from the start (on Monday).''
If Lee is able to somewhat neutralize Griffin in Game 2 and beyond, the Warriors will take it. Lee's goal is simply not being dominated by a player whose name will appear somewhere on most, if not all, MVP ballots.