Newspaper article International New York Times

Ex-All Star Takes New Role as Stellar Warriors Sub

Newspaper article International New York Times

Ex-All Star Takes New Role as Stellar Warriors Sub

Article excerpt

David Lee lost his starting job after straining his hamstring during the preseason, but he has come off the bench to help confound the Cavaliers.

David Lee strained his left hamstring in the preseason, lost his starting job for the Golden State Warriors and never got it back. He played sparingly as the Warriors rolled to 67 victories in the regular season. His past as a two-time All-Star seemed like more of a stigma as his D.N.P.s -- box-score code for "did not play" -- accumulated like dust bunnies.

Lee, an offense-minded power forward, could have checked out. Instead, he did extra conditioning work. He played one-on-one games against the team's other reserves after practices. He did not let his intensity waver, he said, because he knew that the Warriors would have a chance to advance deep in the playoffs, and perhaps his number would be called.

"I'd seen it happen with so many other guys, where their number was called," he said. "I didn't want to be out of shape and not ready for that moment."

Lee has had important moments in each of the last two games of the N.B.A. finals. After helping revive the Warriors' lackluster offense last week in a Game 3 loss, he came off the bench again in Game 4 as Coach Steve Kerr confounded the Cleveland Cavaliers by going with smaller lineups. The Warriors won by 21 to even the best- of-seven series at two games apiece entering Game 5 on Sunday night at Oracle Arena.

"I think our depth is an advantage," Lee said, "but we'll see how the series plays out."

Lee did not leave the bench in either of the first two games of the series, but Kerr approached him before Game 3. By running their offense through LeBron James, the Cavaliers had effectively slowed the series down, derailing the Warriors' up-tempo offense. Kerr knew he might need to try something new.

"He said, 'We're going to switch a couple of things up, and I want to give you an opportunity,"' Lee said. "'I want to see what you can do when you get in there.' And I gave him the same answer I gave him in the Memphis series: 'Perfect, I'll be ready.' And I just kind of walked away."

Lee was referring to the Western Conference semifinals, in which the Grizzlies -- much as the Cavaliers have done -- were able to muffle the pace through the first three games. …

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