Miami: LeBron James made sure the flu-hit Miami Heat had more than enough to get past a Los Angeles Clippers team finally playing at full strength on Friday.
James scored 30 points in just 31 minutes to lead NBA champions Miami to a 111-89 victory, with the emphatic win spoiling the return of the Clippers’ Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups. Paul, who had missed nine games with a bone bruise in his right knee, scored just three points in 20 minutes, while Griffin, sidelined for two games with a hamstring strain, scored 13. Billups was playing for the first time since December after battling an inflamed tendon in his left foot and contributed seven points in 16 minutes.
DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers with 17 points, but Los Angeles were no match for the Heat, even though Miami were without both All-Star centre Chris Bosh and Ray Allen because of flu.
James made 9-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, and added six assists, with Dwyane Wade, who missed the morning shoot-around because of flu symptoms, scoring 20 points with seven assists.
Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, scored all 20 of his points in the second half to lead the Los Angeles Lakers’ comeback to a 100-93 NBA win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Lakers, coming off a demoralising 116-95 defeat in Boston on Thursday, looked like they were heading for another away defeat when they trailed NBA stragglers Charlotte by 20 points in the third quarter.
Bryant attempted just two shots in the first half, but he came alive after the break, his 14 fourth-quarter points including a slashing layup with 40 seconds to play that gave the Lakers a 98-93 lead.
Steve Nash and Earl Clark added 17 points apiece and Dwight Howard, who returned from a nagging shoulder injury against Boston on Thursday, had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Bryant also posted eight assists with seven rebounds for the Lakers, who are battling to get into playoff contention in the Western Conference.
The Lakers, who had six players score in double figures, continue their marathon road trip against reigning NBA champions Miami on Sunday.
The Bobcats dropped their sixth straight game despite double-doubles for Byron Mullens and Gerald Henderson. Both scored 20 points, with Mullens adding 12 rebounds and Henderson 10.
The Bobcats also welcomed back rookie forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after a two-game absence with a concussion. Kidd-Gilchrist was hurt in a collision with teammate Jeff Taylor in a game at Houston last Saturday.