PHOENIX (AP) — LeBron James under the weather is better than no LeBron James at all.
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 on Saturday night.
"Me at 50 percent or 60 percent is better than me not playing at all," he said.
The Heat, playing without Dwyane Wade for the second game in a row because of a left foot injury, led by as many as 15 in the third quarter and were up by nine with 5½ minutes to play. The Suns cut it to two before Miami scored the game's final seven points.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting for the Heat.
James, who missed the morning shootaround, 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 locker room, where he said he got sick, then received some fluids that helped.
"I can't remember the last time he missed practice or a shootaround 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, which was 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 its 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, but Ray Allen banked in an 8-footer, Brown was called for an offensive foul, and Mario Chalmers stole the ball from Sebastian Telfair, leading to James' fast-break layup. The Heat were off on a 9-0 run, capped by James' reverse dunk with 5½ minutes to go.
Phoenix then rallied again. Telfair sank a 3-pointer, then Goran Dragic knocked the ball loose and gathered it in for a layup to cut it to 90-88 with 2:11 remaining. Phoenix had a chance to tie but Beasley missed an open 14-footer.