MINNEAPOLIS -- The presence of David Lee in the lineup, after an eight-game absence, paid immediate and obvious dividends.
He scored only 10 points, missing 10 of his 15 shots. He grabbed only six rebounds, five shy of his average. Still, his 42-plus minutes Saturday were a big factor in the Warriors' 104-94 win over the Minnesota.
Lee took attention away from guard Monta Ellis, who finished with 26 points, 10 assists and seven steals. He got open looks for small forward Dorell Wright, who set a franchise record with nine 3-pointers en route to a career-high 30 points.
Most important, Lee injected life into the Warriors (8-9), who were in the dumps thanks to a five-game losing streak.
"You don't know how bad it was when I was sitting in the hospital bed or sitting by the TV watching games," Lee said. "That's miserable. I'm just happy I was able to come back and help the team get back to winning ways."
Before the game, Lee cautioned that he might have only 12 to 15 minutes in him. It made sense considering he hadn't played in a game since Nov. 10 because of an infected left elbow that required two surgeries to clean out.
But Lee had planned to play more, and coach Keith Smart had plans to play Lee more. "We had (paramedics) on the side, ready," said Smart, who played Lee the first 16 minutes of the game. "He was going to play. We've got a day off. Whatever tightens up, tightens up."
Lee said his wind was much better than he expected. But he said he didn't have the legs to go after rebounds as normal. (The Warriors got killed on the glass, 55-32.) Also, his still-hurting left elbow prevented him from banging in the paint -- making him less of an obstacle for Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who finished with 21 points and 22 rebounds -- and getting arc on his jump shot.
Still, the Warriors outscored Minnesota by 14 with Lee on the court.
Golden State took control of the game with a dominant third quarter. The Timberwolves led 61-60 at the 7:42 mark after a 21-footer by Michael Beasley, who had a team-high 28 points.
The Warriors responded with a 10-0 run on two 3-pointers by Wright and two dunks by Dan Gadzuric. When Lee found Wright for his fourth 3-pointer in a 31/2-minute span, it put the Warriors up 76-64 with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
Lee was on the bench when a floater by swingman Reggie Williams put Golden State ahead by 16. And when the Warriors thwarted three straight put-back attempts to conclude the third quarter, Lee was the first one off the bench, ever so pumped, to congratulate his teammates.
"It was good to hear his voice out there," Wright said. "He brings energy. He's got guys in here laughing, just being him. We appreciate him being back and making the effort."
The Timberwolves never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
After the game, Lee admitted he was in pain. His left elbow was sealed with Saran Wrap, beneath which blood was showing through the gauze over the wound that kept him out eight straight games.
Lee said he was told he couldn't do more damage to his elbow. He said he didn't think he was taking "any dumb chances" by playing Saturday. But even if he were, he said he would've played anyway. He couldn't stand watching another game.
"I know we can get some wins and we can beat some teams," Lee said. "I told you, I want to be judged on wins and losses, and so far that's going pretty well when I'm in there."
San Antonio at Warriors, 7:30 p.m. CSNBA