Warriors coach Keith Smart said he doesn't know how to motivate NBA players to rebound. The art is about desire, and a knack, and not about speeches from coaches.
But he did have an interesting off-the-cuff idea, one that might apply for his starting power forward.
"I don't think you can tell a guy every time to go rebound," Smart said. "Do your job. I think some of them have bonuses, I guess, for rebounds. Maybe we've got to put the contract on the wall or something. I don't know."
Warriors forward David Lee says he won't be needing such motivation. He said his 19-rebound game in Sunday's win over Oklahoma City was a product of a renewed focus.
Even after the game, Lee is averaging 9.6 rebounds per game -- on pace for two fewer rebounds than he averaged last season.
The Warriors have improved in rebounds per game, currently ranking 21st in the league (40.62) after finishing last season dead last (38.4). But the Warriors still, on average, get out-rebounded by 3.89 per game (28th). That's significantly better than grabbing 9.7 rebounds per game fewer than your opponent, which is what the Warriors did last year. But it would make sense that people expected more of an impact from Lee, who is getting paid $13.3 million this year on a six-year, $80 million contract.
Lee said he's come to realize he needs to focus on the glass.
"I think the part of my game that I can continue to work on to help our team is the rebounding thing," Lee said. "I think this team doesn't need my scoring as much as it needs my rebounding, and that's what I tried to put forward (Sunday) and will continue to do from here on out."
Lee was heralded as a 20-and-10 All-Star after averaging 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds with New York last season. But Lee is down in both scoring and rebounding this year. He's also on pace for a career-low in field goal percentage (49.3 percent).
But general manager Larry Riley brought in Lee to improve one of the worst rebounding teams in history, which Riley figured would improve the Warriors defense. The GM simply got tired of watching his team give up second and third shot attempts, especially down the stretch, even when it plays good defense.
Lee was supposed to be the answer for that, especially coupled with starting center Andris Biedrins being healthy.
Lee got off to a good start on the boards, averaging 11.3 his first eight games despite a three-rebound effort in an early blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in which he played just 19 minutes.
A peculiar left elbow injury -- an infected laceration that kept him out for eight games in November -- killed what momentum he built. And when he returned, Lee said some of his concern was getting his offensive game going.
Lee has 17 double-doubles in 36 games since returning from the injury. Last season, he was fourth in the league with 53. In 2008-09, he led the NBA with 65. He currently has 23 double-doubles with 29 games remaining.
Why the decline in production? Since Lee has just four single-digit scoring games, the obvious answer is a decline in his rebounding. Lee all but promises that will change.
"It's been a little bit of an adjustment," Lee said. "I think I've done an OK job. I think I can do better. And now that I've been healthy this last month, I think I've been playing better ball and I want to continue to keep that up and play even better."
Note: Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko has been ruled out for Tuesday night's game at Phoenix because of a sprained right ankle and will be listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against the Warriors in Salt Lake City.
New Orleans (33-23) at Warriors (24-29), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA