SAN ANTONIO — LeBron James isn’t quite over the flu. He’s not that far off.
James scored 22 points in 19 minutes in his return to the Cleveland lineup after staying home sick for the last game, but the San Antonio Spurs beat the Cavaliers 105-98 on Friday night.
Though not completely healthy, James said he still felt pretty good after going 7-of-14 from the field and grabbing six rebounds. He and two teammates tested positive this week for Influenza A, and James spent two days this week just lying in bed.
“I’m down probably 20 percent of what I know I’m capable of playing at,” James said.
Despite feeling better, James will likely sit out Saturday’s game against Dallas.
Tony Parker scored 22 points to lead the Spurs, who were without coach Gregg Popovich who wasn’t sick — he just took the night off.
Along with James, Darnell Jackson and Coby Karl of the Cavaliers also tested positive for Influenza A. Six Cleveland players have had flu-like symptoms this week.
Karl and Jackson also returned, and Cleveland coach Mike Brown said everyone was on the upswing.
Mo Williams scored 15 points and had six assists for Cleveland, while Shaquille O’Neal made just 3 of 11 shots, finishing with eight points and 13 rebounds.
Tim Duncan scored 13 points and had nine rebounds for the Spurs before watching the second half from the bench, where he was the key authority figure in Popovich’s absence. Popovich gave his assistants a crack at coaching, which isn’t a unique move for him during the preseason.
“They were good and they got the win,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner said. “That’s the important part.”
James stayed home Wednesday when the Cavs lost to Washington. He arrived in Texas looking refreshed.
He sailed high just 4 minutes into the game to snatch a half-court alley-oop pass from Williams and throw it down. He ran backward with a huge grin after hitting a tough 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, then took a seat for the rest of the night.
“You think sometimes in the back of your head that sickness will cause problems but he breezed through that tonight,” Spurs center Antonio McDyess said.
The crew of replacement officials called 61 fouls, and the teams combined to shoot 78 free throws.
Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili didn’t play for the Spurs. Parker shot 7 of 14 from the field and had seven assists, and George Hill scored 13 points.
Jamario Moon scored 12 points and Russell Robinson had 11 for Cleveland.
James has said he believes he may have gotten the flu from the shot he and his teammates got recently to fight the virus. The Cavs treated James, Jackson and Karl as if they had the H1N1 virus but they have only tested positive for Influenza A. The team has not gotten the results to see whether they had H1N1.
Jackson scored four points in 23 minutes and Karl went 1 for 7 from the field, finishing with two points.
Cavs guard Delonte West, who has spent time away from the club this month while dealing with personal and legal issues, was with the team but didn’t play. Brown said he’ll let Cavs general manager Danny Ferry decide when West is ready to return.
West is being treated for bipolar disorder and has pending misdemeanor weapons charges after he was arrested in Maryland carrying three loaded guns.