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Raptors’ James Johnson uses Twitter to vent frustrations


Following a big win over an NBA title favourite on Wednesday, the mood was high for the Toronto Raptors.

They’d just dispatched the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-99, closing out a tough team in a manner that eluded them repeatedly at the start of their five-game West Coast trip last week.

But heading into a mini-break for the American Thanksgiving, Raptors forward James Johnson was in a different mindset.

“Mood: Under-utilized,” he wrote on Twitter after his team’s ninth victory of the season.

A few hours and a few hundred re-tweets later, Johnson changed his tune.

“My bad,” he wrote on Thursday morning, “just want more than anything to be a big part of something special for fans, teammates and coaches.”

To Johnson’s credit, he left the original tweet up rather than deleting it after he received what likely would have been some negative feedback from the organization.

The 28-year-old has been used sparingly this season, getting just 13.5 minutes per game and putting up 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds. With centre Jonas Valanciunas nursing a broken bone in his left hand, Johnson’s name has come up more with coach Dwane Casey this week as part of how to address their starting centre’s absence. Johnson only had 5:28 of playing time against the Cavs, though, with just one rebound.

Johnson has averaged 18.4 minutes per game in his seven-year career and has seemed to understand his role with the Raptors this year, the second season of his second go-round with the team. And he’s often posted team-oriented tweets prior to Wednesday.

Valanciunas’ injury, and the opportunity it provides for bench players, likely factored into Johnson’s frustration.

“(Valanciunas’ absence) does cause an issue with our bigs’ situation,” Casey said earlier this week. “It’s going to be big-by-committee. Everybody has to be ready. It’s a disaster on one side, but it’s an opportunity for someone on the other side.”

Heading into Wednesday’s game, Casey figured Johnson would be involved, going from power forward to centre in certain situations.

“(It’s) not really a role change but the position will change. I think (Johnson is) going to be doing some things: one is defending, one is rebounding, one is making sure he plays within himself.

“The responsibility will not change, just the position.”

TORONTO STAR | SPORTS

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