David Lee logged 38 more minutes than he thought he would Wednesday night after constantly vomiting and fighting a fever, dizziness and dehydration — "just about anything you can think of," he said — from all the fluids lost.
At one point in the second half, Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson turned to Lee during a timeout and asked if his starting power forward felt well enough to continue.
"He said, 'No,'" Jackson said, laughing, because he kept Lee in the game anyway. "It just shows the character of these guys."
Lee played through flu-like symptoms to finish with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, helping the Warriors outlast the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-96. After sitting out the morning practice, Lee had to take intravenous fluids overnight and before the game just to stay on the court.
"Then I looked, we were up like 13 with like 2 minutes to go, and I kept looking like, 'Coach, come on, man,'" Lee said, smiling. "He just pretended like he didn't see me."
Lee's leverage in the paint allowed Golden State to play inside-out with ease.
Stephen Curry scored 21 points to go with six assists, and reserve Carl Landry added 19 points and nine rebounds to help the Warriors take a 17-point lead in the second quarter, go down a basket in the third and cruise to victory in the fourth.
Kyrie Irving also had a stomach ache earlier in the day but had 28 points and seven assists, and Daniel Gibson chipped in 12 points for the Cavaliers, who played without two of their top big men. First-round pick Tyler Zeller was sent back to Cleveland for further concussion tests and Anderson Varejao sat out with soreness in his bruised right knee.
Both injuries occurred in Cleveland's win at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Cavs coach Byron Scott said it's unclear when either will return.
"The first quarter I thought was a prime example of coming out," Scott said, "and almost feeling sorry for ourselves because we don't have Andy, we don't have Tyler."
Whatever the reason, Golden State took advantage.
The Warriors improved to 3-2, a winning record that doesn't mean much to most NBA teams. For fervent — and often frustrated — fans in the basketball-booming Bay Area, though, the small sample size is enough to provide a glimmer of hope for a franchise that has missed the playoffs 17 of the last 18 seasons.
With the Cavaliers (2-3) depleted on the inside, the Warriors wasted no time turning the game into a rout. They just struggled, at first, to keep Cleveland at a distance.
The Cavs collapsed on the inside and allowed Golden State's shooters to roam free. Curry and Klay Thompson made a flurry of jumpers to give the Warriors a 37-21 lead after the first quarter. Curry alone scored 15 in the period to help Golden State pile up more points than it had in any quarter in the previous four games this season.
"We started out the first quarter really bad and we were just going uphill the entire game," Irving said.
The Cavs surged back in a hurry, closing within five later in the second during a spurt highlighted by an over-the-backboard alley-oop from Gibson to Tristan Thompson that even stirred the home fans. In the third quarter, Alonzo Gee started a three-point play with a driving layup over Harrison Barnes, and Dion Waiters followed with a long jumper to put Cleveland ahead 69-67.
Jarrett Jack, who also sat out the morning practice because of an illness, came through during Golden State's final push. He converted a three-point play over Samardo Samuels — who started in Varejao's place — and threw a long outlet pass ahead to Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk.
Lee helped Golden State outrebound Samuels, Jon Leuer and what was left of Cleveland's frontcourt 44-39 to help Golden State close the third quarter on an 18-5 run, going ahead by 11 and essentially putting the game out of reach.
"These are those games that you have to have when you look back on the season," Jack said. "You can't be like, 'Ah, this is one of those games that we kind of gave away.' No matter who's in uniform, you have to go out with that mindset that we have to get this 'W' no matter the situation is."
NOTES: New Warriors C Andrew Bogut, still playing through soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, was held scoreless in 17 minutes of play. He had five points and three rebounds. ... Golden State has won four straight against Cleveland. ... San Francisco Giants slugger and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval attended the game. .... Cavaliers swingman C.J. Miles also played through an illness. He scored 7 points in 17 minutes.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP