MIAMI — was sitting at his locker after the game, a bottle of cold medicine at his side.
The would be hard-pressed to believe it was needed.
James shook off flu-like symptoms to put up 31 points, eight rebounds and eight assists — hours after being told to stay away from the team’s shootaround practice after calling in with a cough and chest congestion — and the topped the Lakers 98-87 on Thursday night. scored 15 for Miami, which won its second straight after a three-game slide.
“A chest cold can get to you at times,” James said. “But I felt like I could help the team.”
Shane Battier scored 11 and led the way defensively on . finished with 10 for Miami, which led by as many as 23 points and improved to 5-1 at home.
Miami moved to 5-0 this season without , who missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. He missed three games earlier this season with left foot soreness.
“We don’t take (James’) talent for granted, nor do we take Dwyane’s talent or Chris’ talent,” Heat coach said. “They’re special players, and they can rise to the occasion.”
Pau Gasol scored a season-high 26 for the Lakers, Bryant scored 24 — 14 in the fourth quarter — and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
It was the first time James had gone against L.A.’s , his former coach in Cleveland. James ran over to Brown moments before tipoff for a long embrace.
“I had a great time coaching LeBron,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t be in this suit if it wasn’t for him.”