MIAMI – James Johnson knew it was time to take a break when he said his knee “kind of buckled” during pregame warmups Wednesday.
“When I was out there working out, just my normal pregame workouts, when I would shoot a jumper it kind of felt funny,” Johnson said. “I went up to shoot another one, it kind of buckled. And then that was it after that.
“I wasn’t able to go as hard as I can and that’s not fair to my teammates, so I had to take a knee.”
Johnson sat out Miami’s 97-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls because of right knee tendinitis. He expects to return Friday for the start of Miami’s season-long six-game road trip in Denver.
“Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely,” he said following the game when asked if he’ll play Friday. “Just felt a little weak tonight. And, like I said, I couldn’t do that to my guys.”
Johnson, who was named a tri-captain this season after just one year with the organization, has had a nice start statistically, but has not been the spark through the first six game that the Heat were used to seeing last season. Johnson is averaging 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He’s shooting 66.7 percent (26-of-39) inside the 3-point line, but just 17.6 percent (3-of-17) on 3-pointers.
Johnson said he’s had the tendinitis for a while and it “flared up.” The solution is “treatment non-stop.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra he is not overly concerned.
“It’s been bothering him for a little bit of time, but my level of concern isn’t high,” Spoelstra said. “This is something where we’re trying to be proactive.
“It is a little bit different with the schedule a little bit less back-to-backs you don’t have the days necessarily in between. it seems like you’re playing every other day a lot so we’re trying to look a little bit big picture and make sure we catch this before it becomes a wear and tear type of thing.”
Johnson was impressed with the way the team bounced back after allowing the Bulls to turn a 15-point first-half deficit into a six-point third-quarter lead.
Center Hassan Whiteside returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with a bruised left knee and Okaro White started in Johnson’s place at power forward.
“All my trust in these guys, man,” he said. “I know how it is out there in the trenches. I know basketball is going to be ups and down, missed shots, made shots. So as long as we stuck to our habits. I think our huddle really separated up. Our huddles were really intuitive and our guys were really paying attention to every little detail.”
Johnson, 30, signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Heat in July after putting together a career season in his first year with the organization. He averaged 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 2016-17.