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Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee will miss the rest of the 2013 postseason after suffering a complete tear of his right hip flexor during his team's 97-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference playoff matchup, the team announced Sunday.
Lee suffered the injury just after the start of the fourth quarter on Saturday night.
After working a pick-and-roll with point guard Stephen Curry on the right-hand side of the court, Lee slipped to the basket, received a pass from Curry and elevated to attempt a layup, which was contested by JaVale McGee. After the Nuggets center fouled Lee on the play, the Warriors All-Star hit the floor hard and landed awkwardly, immediately grabbing for his right leg as he lay under the basket. After making one of two free throws, Lee limped back on defense before being escorted off the court and back to the locker room. He finished with 10 points on 4 for 14 shooting, 14 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in 29 minutes.
The Warriors had initially called Lee's injury a strained right hip flexor, but the tear, first reported by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, was confirmed by a magnetic resonance imaging test conducted by team doctors Sunday morning. It remains unclear whether Lee will need surgery to repair the tear; Berger reported that early estimates peg the forward's recovery time at around three months. He is reportedly expected back for the start of the Warriors' 2013-14 training camp, according to NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper.
Lee, just a week and a day shy of his 30th birthday, was the Warriors' second-leading scorer and top rebounder this season, averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 boards per game, and earned his second career All-Star berth back in February. His combination of post scoring, mid-range shooting and deft interior passing was expected to play an important role in helping the sixth-seeded Warriors put up enough points to match the favored Nuggets' high-powered offensive attack. (You also can't help but feel for a guy who, after eight seasons of playoff-free basketball, only got 30 minutes of run in his first taste of the postseason.)
As our Kelly Dwyer noted in his postgame breakdown late Saturday, a Golden State attack powered by guards Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack should still have plenty of firepower to be able to compete in the series, but losing a high-impact offensive contributor and glass-cleaner who averaged 37 minutes per game during the regular season and figured to see even more time for Mark Jackson in the playoffs certainly doesn't help the Warriors' chances at an upset bid.
Jackson will have to lean more heavily on reserve forward Carl Landry to replace some of Lee's offensive production in the frontcourt, but the absence of Golden State's top interior threat figures to allow Denver to devote more attention and resources to slowing down the Warriors' devastating perimeter attack and league-leading 3-point shooting, which they effectively managed in holding the Warriors to an 8-for-22 mark from long range in Game 1.
After Lee's injury, the Warriors outscored the Nuggets 30-26, but lost on a final-second game-winning layup by veteran point guard Andre Miller, which gave Denver a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 tips off at 10:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, you can check out Lee's injury elsewhere, thanks to OUOutreach.
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