Ill Delonte West recovers, plays

Updated: April 29, 2012, 3:20 AM ET
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West started in Saturday night's Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder after needing a day of rest and intravenous fluids to recover from a stomach ailment.

He scored in five points in 27 minutes of the Mavericks' 99-98 loss.

West missed the morning shootaround after he became ill on Friday night and through Saturday morning. As he tried to eat his first meal since Friday afternoon, a piece of grilled chicken, West said he had a slight headache and that he would gauge his energy level after his pregame workout on the floor about an hour before the tipoff.

West, in his first season with Dallas, said he gave no real thought to sitting out the start of the Mavs' title defense.

"No, not all. Of course, when I was lying on the bathroom floor I was thinking that," West said before the game. "But, no, not at all. I ain't missing no playoff game. You're going to have to drag me off the floor."

Losing West would have served as a major blow to Dallas, particularly on the defensive end.

West, the Mavs' starting shooting guard, has the difficult task of facing explosive Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

"Everybody in this league ties their shoes up just like me, you know what I mean?" West said. "They got an important defensive role tonight."

Without West, the Mavs would have had to rely heavily on veterans Vince Carter and Jason Kidd, with defensive player of the year candidate Shawn Marion mostly occupied by Thunder star Kevin Durant.

Even with West in the lineup, the Mavs' defensive plan was to attack the Thunder's big three scorers by committee and sprinkle in their zone defense.

"We can't expect Marion to guard (Durant) the entire game," Carter said. "We can't expect J-Kidd or whoever to guard those other guys the entire game, so we're going to do it by committee. I think we can continue to keep a fresh body on them like that and just give them different looks."

West averaged 9.6 points and 3.2 assists while playing 24.1 minutes in 44 regular-season games in his first season with the Mavs.

"We need his minutes," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before the game.

West pinpointed his ill-timed stomach sickness on either raw oysters he consumed before Thursday night's game at Atlanta or on something he ate on the team plane. He said he spent Saturday in bed being replenished by an IV.

"I don't got no excuses over me," West said. "I got my jersey on and I'm going to go out and give 120 percent."

He dislocated and fractured his right ring finger Feb. 15 and underwent surgery days later. He returned on March 29, but still must play with his ring and middle fingers taped together.

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