MIAMI – LeBron James will play through illness Thursday night.
Hours after sending James home from the team's game-day shootaround practice with flu-like symptoms, the Heat said the two-time MVP would be in the lineup against the Los Angeles Lakers.
And that decision came as no surprise to the Lakers — James' former coach in particular.
"When you talk about great players like him, those guys even though they're sick or a little injured or whatever, they find a way to perform at a high level," Lakers coach Mike Brown, one of James' former coaches with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said Thursday afternoon. "I don't think it's any different for LeBron."
James has been battling sickness for much of this week. He said it affected him in the early minutes of Miami's game against San Antonio on Tuesday, a contest where he started slowly and still finished with 33 points, 17 of those in a huge third-quarter run as the Heat turned a 14-point halftime deficit into a 22-point win.
James said he was feeling better Wednesday, though some symptoms apparently reappeared Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Spoelstra indicated James was sent home only as a precaution.
Miami will be without guard Dwyane Wade, whose sprained right ankle will keep him sidelined for the second straight game. It's the fifth game Wade will miss in Miami's first 14 this season because of injury, the first three of those caused by a sore left foot.
"The show still goes on," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "We're still going to expect to win."
Even with James in the lineup, the Heat plan to use Shane Battier and James Jones defensively on Lakers star Kobe Bryant, at least some of the time.
"It's always a luxury having such great players on your team," Bosh said. "But sometimes they're out. This is why we made moves this season, was to be a deeper team."