It all looked so normal for David Lee: A run-of-the-mill drive to the basket, a foul and an awkward landing.
It’s basketball, after all, these things happen.
Only nothing was run-of-the-mill about this particular moment. Lee, the Golden State Warriors’ workhouse power forward and an all-star, left Saturday’s Western Conference Playoffs opener in the fourth quarter in what was later revealed as a tear of his right hip flexor.
The Warriors lost 97-95, too.
For long-suffering Warriors fans, optimism was running high against a banged-up Denver Nuggets team. Lee’s injury is a devastating blow for Golden State’s upset bid.
Naturally, Lee – who had played in 577 consecutive regular-season games – was distraught over the injury.
“It’s a tough day,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons. “I’ve waited eight years for this, and to have it come to such an abrupt end with something that is out of my control is frustrating. It’s easy to sit here and kind of worry about yourself, but I’ve been a leader all year, and I’m going to continue to be one. Guys need to see me be positive right now.”
The Warriors will now have to rely heavily on budding superstar Stephen Curry if they are going to advance to the next round.
Curry struggled at the outset of his playoff debut, missing his first nine shots from the field. He rebounded, though, with 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting, nine assists and also made a game-tying three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for the Dubs, Curry’s heroics were erased when 37-year-old Denver guard Andre Miller made a layup with 1.3 seconds left in the game. Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 22 points. Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver.
“I don’t think anybody came in here thinking we were going to sweep the Denver Nuggets,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “You’ve got to win four games to advance, so we can’t act like this is over. Take the blow and be ready to make adjustments and respond.”
Stay awesome, San Diego
For a supposed NL West rival, San Diego has been fantastic to the Giants recently.
Consider: after a dismal showing last week where the Giants were steamrolled in a three-game sweep in Milwaukee, they returned to AT&T Park’s friendly confines and rebounded to the tune of a sweep over the visiting Padres.
This, of course, is on the heels of the Padres sweeping the Giants’ biggest rival and expected biggest competition in the NL West, Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Padres had already done plenty of damage to the Dodgers, literally, when the Southern California adversaries behaved like children and Dodgers star Zack Grienke fractured his collarbone and is expected to miss two months as a result.
No one’s openly rooting for injury, but the Padres are making a few new friends in San Francisco as a result of their recent antics.
Weekend highlights for the Giants (12-7) included a dominating pitching performance from Barry Zito on Sunday along with Buster Posey’s first home run and on Friday AT&T Park broke out in a boisterous rendition of “Sweet Caroline” as a tribute to Boston.
Child-like behavior encouraged: @seanswaby