OAKLAND -- Even though he didn't play in the first two games, All-Star forward David Lee continued to believe he might have an impact for the Warriors against the San Antonio Spurs.
And in the first half of Game 3 on Friday night, it was almost as if the old David Lee were back.
Entering the game with 11 minutes, 37 minutes left in the second quarter and the Warriors down by 11, Lee promptly snapped down an offensive rebound, put it back in and was fouled for a three-point play. Lee turned in a three-minute stint, scoring again on a jumper from near the top of the key and also grabbed another rebound.
Alas, it didn't last long. Lee left the game with 8:38 to go in the half and didn't return the rest of the way in a 102-92 defeat to the Spurs.
"It's going to be baby steps," Lee after the game said. "I have to take this one day and one game at a time. I felt like I was able to help the team a little bit in a short stint. I know the coach was happy with what I did while I was out there, and I'll try to get some more minutes on Sunday."
Lee, who said he feels 60-70 percent, said he probably could have played in the second half as well had he been called upon. Coach Mark Jackson didn't want to push it too far.
"I thought he played outstanding," Jackson said. "He gave us an incredible boost. But I didn't like the way he was running on the last trip. The game got tight (in the second half), and I didn't want to put him in that situation."
Lee, who has a torn right hip flexor suffered in Game 1 of the first playoff round against Denver, said before the game that he continues to feel better each day and has even been able to dunk. But the key test was how he could play defense, particularly when he got switched into a mismatch.
"I thought when I switched onto (Tony) Parker, I felt like I moved well laterally and I had no issues with that," he said. "I kept him in front, which I knew was going to be a challenge. But other than that, offensively I'm not too concerned. I can sort of tailor-make how I want to finish plays footworkwise."
Before the game, Jackson said Lee fans shouldn't get their hopes up that he might be ready for extended minutes.
"I can tell you right now if he plays, it won't be 20-25 minutes," Jackson said. "If he plays, it'll be in short spurts. I will not put him in position right now to ask him to play heavy minutes."
Jackson maintained that based on what he's been told by team doctors, Lee can't injure himself any worse than he did originally but does risk going back to "square one."
Said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before the game: "I'm happy that he's back, but it doesn't change what we do."
"At the end of the day, he's a guy who works his tail off," Jackson said. "He shoots free throws every single day, and I'm comfortable with him on the floor and confident that when it matters, he's going to make them. So that's not a concern at all."
Bogut shot just 50 percent during the regular season (19 for 38) and has a 57.2 career percentage from the line. Perhaps to change his look at the line, Bogut showed up clean-shaven for Game 3.