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The return of David Lee could not have come at a better time.
It was the second night of a back-to-back at the end of a road trip, a road trip that had not been going well. A five-game losing streak turned a promising start of the season into reasonable calls for Keith Smart's job. The team's weak bench was exposed. A lineup that lives and dies with the success of an undersized guard duo will die often.
With left elbow wrapped away in the sort of wrap normally reserved for covering truly terrible tattoos, Lee was far from effective. And it didn't matter. A terrible game from Lee was exactly what this team needed to break the streak.
Opinions differ as to how much you can tell about a game from the box score, how much the statistical record accurately describes what happened in the 48 minutes between the opening tip and the final buzzer. And while it differs from game to game, the key to this game most certainly did show up in the box score.
No, it wasn't the team rebounding. The Wolves dominated the boards. Biedrins 12 aside, Kevin Love showed why he leads the Association in rebounds and the Wolves showed why it's tough to outrebound them as a team.
It wasn't the guard play, though the dynamic duo's 46 points and 17 assists against 30 shots and 4 turnovers is going to lead to wins more often than not.
It wasn't Dorell Wright breaking out of a funk to can more 3s in a single game than any Warriors ever en route to a career high scoring night. Certainly this contributed and should be ignored for the superior performance that it was. On any other night it might have been key.
It wasn't even holding the Wolves to another sub-40% shooting night from the floor or forcing Minnesota into 21 turnovers. While this took is the sort of result that suggests a Warriors win, it again was by no means the most substantial factor.
It was the return of David Lee that sealed this one. No, number 10's 5 for 15 is not a good shooting night. It's downright Hudsonific or Pargo-tacular. And 6 rebounds in 42 minutes from your top big is a performance that compares poorly to your average Andrea Bargnani outing.
But Lee's return almost certainly had the single most substantial influence on the outcome last night and the box score captures it in total.
It's summed up here:
|V. Radmanovic||DNP - Coach's Decision|