Bosh bracing for a longer layoff

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

All Sam Mitchell wants for Christmas is his two frontcourt stars healthy at the same time.

Rookie for ward Andrea Bargnani has broken out in a big way in the last few games, including a career high 23 points in a 91-84 victory in Orlando on Wednesday night. But without all-star forward Chris Bosh in the lineup, the Raptors have struggled big time. And the news is not good.

Bosh has missed the past three games with a bruise on his right knee, which has caused extensive swelling.

And based on his words and actions at practice yesterday, it seems that he wont be returning to the lineup any time soon. The big man evoked memories of Long John Silver limping around the Air Canada Centre practice gym yesterday without the parrot.

The Dallas native will not dress for tonights match up against the visiting New Jersey Nets and for Sundays game at the ACC against the Golden State Warriors. And its a good bet he wont see action next week on the teams fourgame road trip on the westcoast.

Winning road games on the west coast is difficult enough, but without Bosh ... Still, the 6 -foot-10 standout said he will not rush back into the lineup until he is 100% and not need of a brace.

Its still a little sore, the swelling still there. Its something you have be delicate with, he said. I dont want come back and slow the team down and play on one leg and probably inj ure the other one. I want to be able to focus on playing basketball and not have to worry about treating an injury.

He also doesnt want his knee to turn into a chronic problem.

Thats why I want to wait until I m ready to go, he said. Yeah, I could come back when theres still a little bit of pain, but that might cause some bigger issues.

Without Bosh, the Raptors went into the tank for games against Portland last Sunday and Miami on Monday.

But the team bounced back in a big way in Orlando, particularly Bargnani and centre Rasho Nesterovic, who played almost 40 minutes and picked up 10 rebounds.

Mitchell will need playerslike that to continue to step up in order to have any chance of winning games.

In the meantime, Bosh said he is doing all that he can to get healthy and stay close to game shape.

Ive been getting treatment four-five-six hours a day, so were going to keep the strength up and keep the muscles from shutting down, he said. Were just trying to flush out the fluid and keep the leg strong. Ive been working every day to make sure I hit the ground running when do get back.

Mitchell said the first two games without Bosh were a wakeup call for the Raptors.

Normally after you lose one of your better players, its kind of a shock to your team because guys are used to Chris doing so much.

I dont have to the rebound, Chris will get it. I dont have to work as hard on offence because when we get the ball, Chris can draw a double team and I can get a shot that way. It takes a while to make that adjustment, the coach said.

Bosh sees Bargnanis big game in Orlando as the start of some good things.

Hes been overdue, he said. Hes been working hard, working on his shot and think that game will give him a little more confi dence.