Kobe Bryant spent the day in his Minneapolis hotel room, unable to keep any food or fluids down for most of the afternoon.
The same bout of the stomach flu sent teammate Andrew Bynum to the hospital, but Bryant refused similar treatment leading up to a game he knew his team had to win.
He simply shook off the nausea and queasy stomach, scoring 13 of his 20 points in the first quarter to set the tone in the Los Angeles Lakers' 116-95 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night.
"Pretty Kobe-ish," Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said.
Said Bryant: "It's tough, but as the leader of this ballclub you have to come out and play through that. Set the tone early, and I was able to do that."
Trevor Ariza added 15 points and five rebounds, and Bryant also had five assists for the Lakers, who dropped Minnesota to an NBA worst 2-14.
"How are you going to tell if he's got the flu?" acting Wolves head coach Jerry Sichting said. "He's a lot like Jordan. It doesn't matter with guys like that. He made me sick."
A sparse crowd braved a winter snow storm to make it to the game, and the weather even messed with the Lakers' short travel plans. The Lakers stayed in a hotel across the street from the Target Center, but the bus that was supposed to pick them up and bring them to the arena was late because the poor road conditions created a traffic snarl in the city. About half the Lakers chose to walk over on their own, while Bryant and others waited for the late bus.
Bryant came out gunning from the start, scoring 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first quarter. He appeared to be a little less explosive than his usual self, until he threw down a 360-degree dunk off a fastbreak late in the second quarter.
The Lakers were up by 16 by that point, and Bryant didn't even need to play the fourth quarter as they snapped a two-game losing streak.
"I made a point to come out and be really aggressive. Kind of set the tone a little bit," Bryant said. "I kind of let my teammates know that this is a game we have to get. No matter if we're shorthanded or not, we have to come out here and take care of business."
In other games:
* At Sacramento, John Salmons took over the scoring load after Kings leading scorer Kevin Martin went down with a pulled groin in the third quarter, scoring 13 straight points in one stretch of a 117-107 victory over Utah. Sal-mons finished with 21 points.
* At Los Angeles, Michael Redd scored 25 points to lead Milwaukee to an 87-78 win over the Clippers. Andrew Bogut added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks.
* At Cleveland, Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 36 points, Vince Carter added 19 and the New Jersey Nets took advantage of LeBron James' absence, beating the Cavaliers, 100-79.
James missed his third straight game because of a sprained left index finger.
* At Indianapolis, Amare Stoudemire scored 42 points to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 121-117 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Steve Nash had 18 points and 17 assists, and Shawn Marion added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who have won three straight. Jermaine O'Neal scored a season-high 30 for the Pacers.
* At Atlanta, the Detroit Pistons scored 22 of the first 31 points in the third quarter to break open a close game, beating the Hawks, 106-95, for their fourth straight victory. Tayshaun Prince led the Pistons with 23 points.
* Coach Isiah Thomas declined to say who would start at point guard for the Knicks tonight at New Jersey if Stephon Marbury hasn't returned to the team following his father's death. Don Marbury Sr. died Sunday night during the Knicks' home loss to Phoenix. The funeral is scheduled for tomorrow in Brooklyn.