With team in need, Heat’s James Johnson took risk in returning Saturday, now he’s out again

The Heat’s James Johnson is defended by Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham during New Orleans’ victory over Miami Saturday. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

MIAMI – James Johnson knew he was taking a risk but his team came before sitting out another game.

“I really thought I could go, despite the pain or despite (Jay Sabol) being a great trainer, not wanting me to go,” Johnson said tonight before. But that’s the kind of guy I am. But we were down some men and I wanted to do my best.”

So Johnson tested his right ankle bursitis Saturday against New Orleans and after eight minutes he limped off the court and was done for the night.

This time the Heat will make sure Johnson is ready to return, which means he will miss tonight’s game against Orlando and remain day-to-day.

“We’re just going to be a little bit more methodical with the protocol to get him back and really test it and we’ll go from there,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s feeling a little bit better. He’s able to do a little bit up there right now. But we’re going to test it quite a bit before we clear him the next time.”

Johnson, who missed three games with the injury before returning Saturday, said he was able to get up some shots at today’s shootaround. But he said there are times the ankle “just flares up out of nowhere” and gets “a little balloon-ish.”

“It just comes back, goes away, comes back, goes away, so just keep rehabbing, keep getting my conditioning in and hopefully it calms down soon,” he said.

As far as when he returns, Johnson said they are aiming for no pain but that may not happen.

“Everything’s not pleasant,” he said. “I’m sure there will be some discomfort. But as long as the doc says discomfort and doesn’t mean anything is going to tear or get worse, then I can play through that.”

Johnson joins Dion Waiters (left ankle sprain), Justise Winslow (left knee strain), Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and Okaro White (left foot surgery) on the sidelines tonight.

Center Hassan Whiteside returns after missing 13 consecutive games because of a bone bruise in his left knee.

Johnson, a tri-captain, was asked how the team keeps from getting frustrated with all these injuries.

“We believe in each other, man,” he said. “We believe not one man makes up this team, not two of us, not three of us. And we always have enough every night.

“So whoever suits up, that’s enough to get the job done that night. And I firmly believe it and I know everybody who’s playing tonight and strapping up, they believe that.”

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