Johnson misses first game of season

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

“Amir is not able to play.”

For the first time since Amir Johnson became a Raptor over a year and a half ago, head coach Jay Triano said those words.

There have been plenty of times already this season Triano thought he might be saying them only to have Johnson beat back, or more precisely, refuse to give in to whatever pain he was feeling.

There was the time in Dallas with the Raptors already missing two starters and half the bench injured or hurting, including Johnson who was dealing with back issues. Triano was waiting outside the locker room as Johnson walked back from his pre-game warm-up.

“How’s it feel, Amir,” Triano asked. “Little bit of pain coach, I’m going to put a little more tape on it,” Johnson said.

Triano turned to a few members of the media standing nearby, raised his eyebrows and said “Tape?”

It worked that night for Johnson, but no amount of tape was going to allow him to play Friday on a sprained right ankle that required a walking boot only 24 hours earlier.

“You know he is hurt,” Triano said.” He tried (Friday) morning but he was very restricted. He got rest this afternoon and got more treatment but he’s just not able to go.”

Johnson played all 82 games his first year in Toronto and along with DeMar DeRozan was the only Raptor to play every game this season until Friday night.

Johnson’s injury opens a starting spot for rookie Ed Davis, whose game has been on the rise with every game he plays with few exceptions.

He has played alongside Andrea Bargnani at times this year out of necessity (in Raptor speak that means injuries) but Friday’s game will mark the first extended minutes the two have played together.

On top of that, he went up against LaMarcus Aldridge for just his third career start and it comes with Aldridge coming off his best games of his career in the past five. He had 42 in a win over Chicago on Monday and 40 four games earlier in a win over San Antonio.

There is no question the Raptors will miss Johnson’s energy, but Davis has shown plenty of that himself in the 201/2 minutes he has been seeing a night.

The Raptors were also without the services of recent newcomer Alexis Ajinca who is battling turf toe.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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