Bosh eyes Memphis return

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Chris Bosh may not be a blues singer, but he does want to play in Memphis next week.

The Raptors all-star power forward has been out since Dec.10 with a sore left knee and has missed eight games. However, Bosh said yesterday that the knee is starting to heal and he should be able to start practising next week. He's hopeful he can make his return a week Friday against Chicago at home or, more likely, the next day in Memphis, one of the great music meccas of the U.S.

"That's what I'm shooting for, the 26th to practise," said Bosh, after yesterday's morning shootaround in Portland. "(The knee) is coming around. I've been able to run up and down a little bit, I have a little more range of motion in my knee. I'm trying to get it back strong and get it back in shape."

The Raptors have performed well with their top player on the sidelines, winning four of seven games (not including last night's game against the Trail Blazers).

"That's a good thing," Bosh said of his team's success in his absence, "because sometimes we have to learn how to play with gaps in the lineup. Everybody's not going to be healthy for all games.

"You have to pick it up sometimes and they've been doing a good job without me. Hopefully I won't slow them down when I come back," Bosh said.

Head coach Sam Mitchell said it is important that the club has had success with Bosh out of action, for the team's and Bosh's sake.

"Hopefully we can continue to gain confidence as individuals, so when Chris comes back he won't have to feel like he has to shoulder the load," Mitchell said.

"Everybody in the locker room understands how important Chris is to our future and to where we want to go, and to this season."

AROUND THE RIM

Fred Jones, who hails from nearby Gresham, Ore., managed to secure more than 50 tickets for last night's game for family and friends, as well as passes for students from his former high school (Barlow) and children from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization ... Forward Pape Sow, who has been out the entire season after having neck surgery in the summer, is obviously getting better. The native of Senegal nailed a three-pointer during the shootaround yesterday and went down hard on his back, but bounced back up with a smile on his face.


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