Heat forward James Johnson disappointed in himself for letting down team in Portland

 

James Johnson was ejected Saturday in Portland after picking up two technical fouls. (AP Photo)

James Johnson was ejected Saturday in Portland after picking up two technical fouls. (AP Photo)

MIAMI – James Johnson has played in 418 NBA games over eight season. He played in 61 games in two seasons at Wake Forest.

But Saturday in Portland was the first time he’s been ejected from a game and he could not be more disappointed in himself.

Johnson was whistled for his second technical foul with 20 remaining in the third quarter of Miami’s 99-92 loss. Coach Erik Spoelstra had decided on a seven-man rotation, mainly because of injuries, and losing Johnson was a big blow.

“I lost it,” Johnson said today following practice. “I messed up, man. I left my guys out there by themselves and that’s the moral of the story. I just wasn’t mentally strong enough to handle that.”

And now Johnson, the toughest player on the Heat (he has a second-degree black belt and perfect record in 27 MMA and kick boxing matches), will not be available for Tuesday’s home game against the Knicks after straining his right rotator cuff last week in Utah.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Johnson was able to play through the second half of the Utah game, one in which he scored a season high 24 points, with the injury but the shoulder bothered him during the off day in Portland and during the game against the Trail Blazers. Although he is out Tuesday, he is listed as day-to-day.

Missing a game because of an injury typically is unavoidable. Being ejected is something you can control.

And the Heat, despite all the injuries, were in position to win their third straight Saturday but after taking a 91-85 lead with three minutes to play, Miami was outscored 14-1 the rest of way.

“We’re already shorthanded,” Johnson said. “This team doesn’t use no excuse and I don’t use no excuse. But I know personally deep down, I felt like I hurt (the team).”

Johnson had his season high, to go along with six rebounds, to help the Heat defeat Utah the previous game. He had two points in 17 minutes before exiting the Portland game.

Johnson received his first technical for jumping in to help Goran Dragic, who fell to the ground when he was hit by Portland’s 7-foot-1 Meyers Leonard. His second was just out of frustration.

“I would more say it was built up,” he said. “It was just built up. I was frustrated and instead of just taking it in and being the man that I am, I let it get the best of me.”

“The second technical was out of character. I’m more (than) happy to get the first technical. … looking out for my guys. That’s what we do. We’re a brotherhood. I really go hard for these guys.”

As for the mounting injuries, Johnson will join Justise Winslow (wrist) and Dion Waiters (groin) on the sidelines Tuesday. Additionally, Luke Babbitt (hip) and Josh Richardson (ankle) are questionable.

Johnson said he was injured on a play in which he “swiped down on the ball.” He said it’s an injury he has dealt with before in his career.

He was asked about a timetable.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m different mentally. Who knows when I’m going to come back. Sooner than later, I hope.”

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