The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
LAS VEGAS – The LA Clippers grabbed an 88-78 victory over the Sacramento Kings in their second game of the Summer League. That win was led by second-year guard Sindarius Thornwell, who finished with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one blocked shot on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Late in the third quarter of that game, Kings players Buddy Hield and DeAaron Fox could be seen saying a few words to Thornwell, who only had nine points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. Despite his struggles, there’s one thing Thornwell didn’t let waver: his confidence.
“Me, Buddy, and Fox was talking trash the whole game,” said Thornwell. “They were saying we was gonna lose, they were strapping me up and stuff like that, and so that run kind of brought emotions out.”
And the emotions sure came out, as Thornwell started the fourth quarter shooting 5-of-5 from the field, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc (he missed one three-pointer late in the fourth and finished 5-of-6 shooting in the quarter). Just like that, a 10 point Kings lead became a 10 point Clippers lead, forcing a Sacramento timeout as Thornwell fired back at both Hield and Fox.
“They aint say nothing,” said Thornwell with a smile. “There’s not much to say.
“Talking trash is part of the game. It’s part of having fun. I don’t like playing if theres no emotions in the game. If everybody’s out there quiet, nobody wanna watch that. Imagine y’all watching a game with nobody out there talking. It’s boring, you know? You gotta talk a little bit and talking gets me going. Sometimes it gets people out of rhythm. Me and Justin got into it at the end of the third and he started worrying about me getting physical with him than playing his game. I think that kind of got him out of rhythm.”
But what if Thornwell, who only made 23 three-pointers on 37 percent shooting in 73 games last season, couldn’t get those momentum-shifting shots to go down?
“I could’ve missed all of them and my confidence still would’ve been high,” added Thornwell after the game. “I would’ve taken five more of them even if I missed those three. When you come out here and shoot, all my work doesn’t dictate what I do in Summer League. You don’t go to the playoffs playing Summer League. Me missing shots, I can’t let that mess with my confidence. Your confidence is all you’ve got in this game. If you break your confidence, you can’t play. You’ll be messed up in the head.”
While it’s safe to say that a year of experience under his belt has surely helped him in his play this summer, it’s also the confidence in his game and confidence in the work he’s put in every day this offseason that leads him to believe he’ll be making the next one.
Following the Kings victory on Sunday night, the Clippers fell to a lengthy Houston Rockets team on Monday, 104-90, in a game where Thornwell struggled from the start with eight straight misses and never really got it going, finishing with 13 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals on 3-of-13 shooting. What he did have, however, was his aggressiveness and confidence, as he got to the line a a game-high 10 times.
“I kept shooting, I kept attacking, I just didn’t make it,” Thornwell said as he shrugged his shoulders. “They just didn’t go in. It happens. Next game, I’m gonna keep shooting, keep attacking, try to get better shots, try to move the ball a little better and make the attacks easier by trying to get easier shots. I think I caught myself a lot of times tonight taking tough shots with two or three guys at the rim whereas we could get a better drive or better kickout.
“My confidence is fine though. Ain’t nothing wrong with it.”
That just may be the difference with Thornwell heading into his sophomore year. Not to say he wasn’t confident last year, but he was in the doghouse at different points during his rookie year, including having nine DNP’s as head coach Doc Rivers often elected to go with Sam Dekker or Wesley Johnson as the backup small forward. Immediately after the blockbuster Blake Griffin-Tobias Harris trade, he played a combined 65 seconds (all garbage time) over a nine game period.
This year, Thornwell is fighting to show the Clippers that he’s earned minutes and a spot in the rotation. He’s been spending all summer in the gym working on this three-point shooting, his ball-handling, and slimming down to become more toned.