Bonner can't stomach missing big game

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Matt Bonner's dreams of playing in front of his hometown fans tonight almost went down the toilet, so to speak, because of a stomach ailment.

Bonner ran over to coach Sam Mitchell during the game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, yelled something into his ear and Mitchell immediately directed point guard Jose Calderon to foul someone and get a time out.

Bonner then charged to the locker room, brought up his lunch, went home and fell asleep. Fortunately, the Red Rocket was no worse for wear during practice yesterday, but the timing of the ailment couldn't have been any worse.

Tonight marks Bonner's long-awaited homecoming, as the Raptors face the Boston Celtics in pre-season action at the Verizon Arena in Manchester, N.H., only 15 minutes from his hometown of Concord.

Stomach problems or not, Bonner said the only way he wouldn't play tonight was if he was in a coma.

He has secured 36 tickets for family and friends for the game and could use at least double that.

"It's awesome," Bonner said. "The whole state's going to be watching."

Bonner led Concord High to three consecutive Class-L state championships and was the first high school player in New Hampshire to score 2,000 points. The Red Rocket's a legend in those parts.

As for his illness, Bonner was quick to point out that it wasn't the submarine sandwich that he eats each day that caused the problem.

"That's probably why (I got sick), I didn't eat my sub. I ate the food here," said Bonner, holding court at the ACC. "Something just disagreed with me and it hit me hard and I was out for the count."

Bonner felt fine during the warmup but began to get queasy sitting on the bench. By the time he was sent into the game in the second quarter, he was hurting.

"I figure I'd just suck it up and play through it. Once I got on the court, it started hitting me hard, I couldn't concentrate on the game at all. I was just trying to keep it together. And then I reached a point when I couldn't take it anymore," he said.

The big question now is, whether Mitchell will start Bonner tonight. The coach wouldn't say yesterday.

Scoring's not enough

Combo guard Tierre Brown scored 24 points and had seven assists in 29 minutes off the bench against Utah but Mitchell was not exactly over the moon with Brown, who is trying to make the team.

"Everyone knows Tierre can score," Mitchell said yesterday. "What Tierre has to do is show people he can do the other things -- defend, make other people better; make better passes; make better decisions; rebound. Those are the things I need to see."


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