James Johnson on comeback trail

Raptors' James Johnson's game hasn't recovered since his benching. (REUTERS)

Raptors' James Johnson's game hasn't recovered since his benching. (REUTERS)

Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

ATLANTA - James Johnson’s emergence as a solid all-around player was one of the early-season revelations for the Raptors.

After a bit of an erratic start shooting and taking care of the ball in December and January, Johnson was fantastic for about seven weeks and looked like a solid piece moving forward.

But the turnovers and poor shooting decisions started to re-emerge from there and that, coupled with an undisclosed disagreement with head coach Dwane Casey, has landed Johnson a return to the bench.

In six April contests, Johnson’s shooting percentage has dipped to 28% (it was 50.4% in March and 46% in February) and he no longer is making as big an impact defensively.

The emergence of Alan Anderson hasn’t helped Johnson either.

Johnson played just six minutes in Friday’s stirring win over Boston and came into Sunday’s game against Atlanta 6-for-31 from the field since being benched for two games.

Casey is hoping Johnson can rebound and finish what was a breakout campaign on a positive.

“Let’s get the James Johnson back that was there in the middle of the year that got him the starting position and go from there,” Casey said.

The turnovers must be reduced as well.

“I thought James made great strides early from (the exhibition and first few games where he was) going behind his back, through his legs (and losing the ball), he really improved in that standpoint and that’s what earned him his starting position.

“He slipped a bit in that area, but that’s where he has to continue to make good decisions with the basketball. I trust him with the ball. With that trust comes a lot of responsibility,” said the coach.

The Raptors will have another year to see what they have in Johnson before having to start making contractual decisions on him.

On Sunday, Johnson didn’t see serious time until the game was out of hand, but was excellent, hitting 6-of-8 shots for 15 points, along with four rebounds.


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