It wasn’t the first time South Carolina product Sindarius Thornwell found himself matched with one of the greatest players in NBA history in LeBron James.
But Friday night was when Thornwell hit new career highs in minutes and points and played a crucial role in the Clippers’ 116-102 upset of James’ Cavaliers.
Lancaster, South Carolina’s own scored 14 points in 37 minutes, both bests for his rookie season. Across much of that time, he had to check the four-time league MVP, and while Thornwell didn’t shut him down, the damage of 25 points on 20 attempts, plus 10 rebounds and six assists, could have been worse (James had 39 in an earlier meeting).
There were some high points for Thornwell, who was 5-for-9 from the field:
And also at least one tricky one against the all-time great.
All told, the Clipper needed the win, as they came into Sunday clinging to a half-game lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Thornwell’s season has been up-and-down. He’s averaging 3.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes a game. But there has been high variance, with five games over 30 minutes and 18 under eight minutes.
As a senior at USC, Thornwell produced one of the best seasons in school history. He averaged 21.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, won SEC Player of the Year and led the program to its first Final Four. He was drafted 48th overall by Milwaukee and traded to LA.