Asking to go to the bench seems to have sparked Amir Johnson, now that he's back in his familiar starting role.

Johnson has sizzled over the past week since, as first reported by the Sun, requesting to be benched in favour of Tyler Hansbrough to help spark the struggling Raptors.

Even though Hansbrough returned to the lineup Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, his streak of consecutive starts ended at three. Head coach Dwane Casey simply has no choice but to start Johnson.

Johnson was great against Golden State as a reserve, then Hansbrough hurt his shoulder minutes into a loss in Phoenix and Johnson's been the starter ever since, averaging about 24 points and nine rebounds in the three games. On Friday, in Toronto's 108-100 win, Johnson was the team's best defender and also added an efficient 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting, plus 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks.

Johnson played 36 minutes. Casey tried to rest him, but Philadelphia stormed back and it's clear this is an infinitely stronger team when its most underrated player is on the floor.

Casey said afterward the team's defence particularly takes a massive dip when he's off.

Casey also explained pre-game his reasoning for sticking with Johnson, despite Hansbrough's return.

"He had a rough couple of first weeks -- but he's back to the old Amir. Since I've been here, I thought the L.A. game was one of the most complete games he has had. Rebounding, passing, defending, it was an all-around game. Hopefully he will take that and grow from it and continue to get better," Casey said.