James Johnson to return for Heat tonight against Denver

The Miami Heat’s James Johnson drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

Heat forward James Johnson is returning for tonight’s game in Denver after a one-game absence.

The power forward missed Wednesday’s victory over the Bulls because of tendinitis in his right knee. He went through practice Thursday and shootaround today and was cleared to play tonight. Johnson, though, will come off the bench as coach Erik Spoelstra is going with the same starting lineup that helped defeat Chicago: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Okaro White and Hassan Whiteside.

The Heat (3-4) begin a six-game road trip against the Nuggets (4-4). Game time is 9 p.m.

Johnson had started five of the first six games.

“He feels a lot better,” Spoelstra said.

“It feels good,” Johnson said following Thursday’s practice. “You know, that little rest helped. All in all, I feel alright.”

Johnson said he’s had tendinitis for awhile and that his knee “kind of buckled” during pregame warmups Wednesday. He added the solution is “treatment non-stop.”

Johnson, who was named a tri-captain this season after just one year with the organization, is averaging 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He’s shooting 66.7 percent on two pointers but just 17.6 percent on threes.

With Johnson back and Whiteside returning Wednesday after missing five games because of a bone bruise in his left knee, the Heat will be as close to full strength as they can be for now. The only player listed on the injury report is Rodney McGruder, who continues to rehab his left leg after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture.

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