Despite ailing LeBron James, Heat end road trip with win over Suns
Ailing star scores 21 points to help Miami finish long road trip with decisive victory over Phoenix
LeBron James playing while under the weather is better than him sitting on the bench.
That was James' thinking when he decided to play despite flu-like symptoms, and he scored 21 points to help the depleted Miami Heat close out a six-game road trip with a 97-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
"Me at 50 per cent or 60 per cent is better than me not playing at all," he said.
The Heat, playing without Dwyane Wade for the second game because of a left-foot injury, led by as many as 15 in the third quarter and were up by nine with 51/2 minutes to play. The Suns cut it to two before Miami scored the game's final seven points.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points, shooting 9-of-11for the Heat.
James, who missed the morning shoot-around, made only 8-of-20 shots, but still reached 20 points for the 11th time in 11 games this season. In the first quarter, he went to the dressing room, where he said he got sick and received some fluids.
"I can't remember the last time he missed practice or a shoot-around so when he missed today, obviously that makes you wonder and you know that it's pretty serious," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We knew yesterday that he hadn't had any food and he went the whole day and in the late afternoon he was able to down some Gatorade, but that was about it."
Markieff Morris scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for Phoenix, who were coming off a loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night. Shannon Brown and Michael Beasley had 14 points apiece.
James may have been sick, but he had enough energy to lead the final surge that lifted Miami to their fifth straight win in Phoenix.
"I set my shooters up as much as possible," he said, "but if the game is close down the stretch I feel like I can make plays individually, to help us win."
Morris' tip-in with 8:39 to go tied it at 79-79.
But Ray Allen banked in an eight-footer, Brown was called for an offensive foul and Mario Chalmers stole the ball from Sebastian Telfair, leading to James' fast-break lay-up. The Heat were off on a 9-0 run, capped by James' reverse dunk with 51/2 minutes to go in the game.
Phoenix then rallied again, cutting the Heat's lead to two 2:11 remaining.
Bosh made a pair of free throws, James hit a driving lay-up, then Miami made three of four free throws in the final 30 seconds to finally put it away and finish the trip 4-2.
Bosh said he knew he had to up his scoring with Wade out.
"I know that my role has changed a bit and I have to be a lot more aggressive so it's just a matter of making shots when I'm open," he said.