Red Rocket downed

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Matt Bonner suffered what likely will be a season-ending injury Tuesday night and it's not whiplash from jerking his head around to look at Raptors coach Sam Mitchell.

Bonner, who has a habit of glancing at the bench consistently after whistles, sprained his left ankle when he landed awkwardly on the foot of Wayne Simien Tuesday night in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat. The second-year forward, who was using crutches and was wearing a protective boot yesterday, missed his first game as a Raptor last night in Orlando against the Magic.

With just three games left this season, there is no point rushing Bonner back.

"When you've got a 40-inch vertical on your jump shot, you've got to be careful where you land," the good-natured Red Rocket, whose ankle is significantly swollen, said with a smile.

Bonner certainly isn't injury prone. In fact, he claims the only "real game" he missed came when he was playing professionally in Italy in 2003-04 after suffering a severe case of salmonella. He dropped 16 pounds in four days, but missed just one game.

Bonner joined a long list of injured Raptors, including Chris Bosh, Eric Williams and Alvin Williams. Coach Sam Mitchell is resisting the temptation to give rookie Charlie Villanueva more minutes at power forward because he wants him to develop as a small forward.

"I'm trying to keep Charlie at the small forward spot because that's where I really want to play him next year," Mitchell said. "The more minutes he could get at that spot (the better). We can always slide him down to the four, we understand that. (But) he's got to get used to guarding guys out on the perimeter and chasing guys."

TRAVELLING THE WORLD

Canadian point guard Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns will return to his birthland -- South Africa -- for Basketball without Borders Africa Sept. 6-10. The program, a basketball instructional camp for young people that stresses, healthy living and education with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, features current and former NBA players and team personnel as camp coaches.


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