Johnson light on injured foot

 
 
  • Bulls forward James Johnson drives against Detroit's Tayshaun Prince on Sunday. Johnson, who hasn't let a foot injury slow him, says he is 35 pounds lighter since the start of training camp.

    Bulls forward James Johnson drives against Detroit's Tayshaun Prince on Sunday. Johnson, who hasn't let a foot injury slow him, says he is 35 pounds lighter since the start of training camp. "Now I feel faster, stronger and lighter on my feet," the rookie says. Associated Press

Published: 3/30/2010 12:00 AM

Bulls rookie James Johnson made an amazing recovery from a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot.

Maybe it was so much a recovery as a refusal to let the injury keep him down. After sitting out Saturday's win over New Jersey, Johnson was back in the starting lineup a day later in Detroit. He scored 9 points in 25 minutes.

"I love my teammates and I'm going to ride with them no matter what," Johnson said. "I'm not going to let a little pain stop me."

Johnson has started eight of the past 10 games in place of Luol Deng, who is out with a right calf strain. The Bulls are hoping Deng might be ready to return Saturday against Charlotte.

One thing that's been clear during Johnson's rookie season is he doesn't fit perfectly into either forward spot. He knew a decision had to be made whether to drop weight and try to gain enough speed to play small forward, or add bulk and be a power forward.

According to Johnson, he's managed to drop 35 pounds since the start of training camp, which might be one reason why he's been able to handle Deng's starting job temporarily.

"I was 267 and we weighed in (recently), it was 232," Johnson said. "So I've lost a lot of weight. I feel like I'm moving faster. More weight is going to come off that needs to come off and when it does, I feel like I'm going to be the player I'm capable of being."

There's no doubt Johnson has a strong, athletic build. He grew up in Wyoming in a family of champion kick boxers. He's shown electrifying jumping ability this season, but the weight probably hurt his lateral quickness.

"I've been doing the running, conditioning and weights before every game," he said. "On everybody else's off days, we still have to come in and get our conditioning in.

"I had to make sure the right things were in my refrigerator. I couldn't have all the fast food. I had to make sure I looked at the calories. I wasn't used to doing that before.

"It all paid off. Now I feel faster, stronger and lighter on my feet. I'm going keep losing weight and become the lean, mean player I want to be."

Bulls go Lawless: When Derrick Rose was out with a left wrist sprain, Acie Law stepped in and scored a combined 40 points on a two-game road trip to Memphis and Dallas.

In appreciation, Law was sent back to the bench. He didn't play in two of the last four games, including Sunday's win at Detroit.

"Just try to be a pro," Law said when asked how he deals with the inconsistent playing time. "Everything's not always going to go in your favor. You just have to know how to deal with adversity and stick with it.

"We're a team. Derrick's an all-star. He's going to warrant 35 or 40 minutes. When I get my opportunity, try to make the best of it."

The former Texas A&M star, chosen by Atlanta with the No. 11 pick of the 2007 draft, has played for four teams in less than three seasons, so he's used to getting limited opportunity.

"I'm not the kind of player to go ask coaches for minutes," Law said. "I ask to help me get better as a player, but I'm not going to go ask for minutes. I feel I can help this team. If they feel the same way, they would put me out there.

"It will eventually work out for me. There's no doubt in my mind. I feel I can play this game. I feel like I can be good. I just have to get an opportunity, get a certain coach to believe in me and go from there."

Bosh will go slow: Toronto star Chris Bosh told reporters in Miami on Sunday that he plans to take his time with a free-agent decision this summer.

"I think it's going to drag out for a while," Bosh said, according to the Miami Herald. "There are so many possibilities and scenarios, with guys staying with their own teams and trying to get other guys. - So I don't expect it to be over too quickly."

Bosh said his No. 1 consideration this summer when choosing a team will be a desire to contend for a championship.

Bulls game day

Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns at the United Center, 7 p.m.

TV: Channel 26

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: Amare Stoudemire has been on a contract push, averaging 28.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and shooting 59.1 percent in March, which makes the Suns tough to beat. Phoenix (47-26) has won seven straight and is 21-5 since Jan. 28. The first time these teams met, Jan. 22 in Phoenix, the Bulls rolled to a 115-104 win as Derrick Rose outscored former MVP Steve Nash 32-8. In two seasons, coach Vinny Del Negro is 3-0 against his former employer.

Next: Friday vs. Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center, 6 p.m.