On the night the Clippers got everyone back for the first time this season, the Heat was without two of its top four scorers.
Chris Bosh missed his second game in a row with flu-like symptoms, and Ray Allen was sick as well for Fridays marquee game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Bosh, Allen and Dwyane Wade missed Friday mornings shootaround because of the flu, but Wade, despite appearing under the weather, was healthy enough to play.
We thought we would throw them a similar curveball, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra joked Friday morning. Thats the NBA.
While the Heat struggled to fill out its roster for the nationally televised game, the Clippers enjoyed a benchmark game in Miami. For the first time this season, the team had its full complement of players available.
Point guard Chris Paul, who hadnt played since Jan. 21, returned from a bruised kneecap. Veteran guard Chauncey Billups, who had only played in three games before Friday, was activated after suffering from an inflamed tendon in his foot during the first half of the season.
Forward Blake Griffin, who had missed two games in a row with a hamstring injury, returned to the starting lineup. And scoring maven Jamal Crawford (shoulder) also played.
The Clippers, who were third in the Western Conference, 4 1/2 games behind the Spurs entering Friday, went 3-6 with Paul out of the lineup.
For the Heat, the spate of illnesses has come during a difficult time in its schedule. The Lakers play at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday and the Trail Blazers visit Miami on Tuesday. The Heat then flies to Oklahoma City for Thursdays game against the Thunder.
On Friday morning, LeBron James said he didnt feel 100 percent healthy.
Everybody is managing something right now, really, Spoelstra said. Youre either managing some kind of knick-knack injury or something a little bit more than a knick-knack injury. Nobody feels 100 percent. Weve been doing quite a bit of traveling its going around everywhere.
With the flu bug running its course through the Heats locker room, an obvious question was asked of Spoelstra on Friday morning: Does the Heat get flu shots?
Yes, they are optional and highly debatable, depending on who you talk to, Spoelstra said.
The Heat coach was then asked if he received a flu shot.
I will not get into that, Spoelstra said with a smile. But you [reporters] can talk about it for a long time.
Wade said he received a flu shot this season, which could explain why he recovered from his illness faster than Bosh and Allen. Shane Battier said he gets a flu shot every year but not to prevent him from missing games.
I just want to be healthy, Battier said. I value my health, and if I can get a flu shot and value my risk of coming down with a serious bug, Im going to do it. And as a father, I dont want to bring the flu home to my children and my wife or get it from them.
Birdman to stay
The Heat made it official Friday and signed Chris Andersen for the remainder of the season. Andersens second 10-day contract ended Friday. After making sure Andersens surgically repaired knee was healthy enough for a return to the NBA, Spoelstra said keeping him was a no-brainer.
• Bosh will compete in the Shooting Stars competition on All-Star Saturday in Houston. The Heats mid-range specialist will team up with Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, WNBA players Swin Cash and Tamika Catchings and former NBA players Dominique Wilkins and Muggsy Bogues to take on a team representing the Western Conference.