Duncan has been suffering from the flu, but it hasn’t stopped the perennial All-Star from missing any games. He battled through the illness for 17 points and 11 rebounds to help San Antonio (23-8) to a 95-81 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
“I thought Timmy did a great job coming off the flu he had yesterday to come back and play like he did,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I didn’t think he would play.”
The flu bug has been going around the team since guard Manu Ginobili missed a game last week with the same problem. Ginobili scored 18 points Sunday.
“I was feeling better but not great,” he said. “So I think we are trying to get over it. Hopefully it’s gone.”
San Antonio is 11-3 on the road and 5-1 when playing the first game of a back-to-back on the road. The Spurs visit Minnesota on Wednesday.
James was forced to battle through a different kind of problem for Cleveland (17-12) in his last game. He twisted his right ankle in the third quarter of a 103-96 loss at Chicago on Saturday.
The Cavaliers superstar did not score the rest of the half until he had seven points in the game’s final two minutes, but did not indicate that the injury was serious.
“I was driving baseline and twisted my ankle a little bit,” said James, who finished with 33 points and nine rebounds. “I was able to get it out of there before I rolled it all the way.”
The Cavs’ three-game winning streak came to an end as they allowed the Bulls to shoot nearly 50 percent—the fifth-highest percentage they have allowed all season.
“The loss tonight is a result of no defense, 20 turnovers and 18 offensive rebounds,” coach Mike Brown said. “Those things and the fact that that’s a good team we played tonight means your going to get beaten every time.”
Cleveland has struggled on the road all season, but is 13-3 at home—one of the best marks in the NBA. Four of the Cavaliers starters shoot better at home than on the road, with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas the lone exception (44.3 percent home, 49.6 percent road).
The Cavs are trying to sweep the season series from the Spurs for the first time since 1988-89 after they spoiled San Antonio’s home opener with an 88-81 victory Nov. 3.
This will be the first game for both teams with the old basketball. James was among the players who complained about the synthetic ball that has been scrapped.
“Honestly I liked it, but playing with the old ball is the same,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “I’ve played with it for five years, so I’ll be OK.”