Perhaps Thornton should play sick more often.
Thornton, coming off a season-high 33 points, will try to help the Clippers (14-28) win consecutive games for the first time since early November on Friday when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 14th pick in the 2007 draft, Thornton learned on Wednesday he was not selected to the NBA’s rookie All-Star game despite averaging 9.2 points in just 20 minutes per game. That news came on the heels of Thornton finding out he had a stomach virus on Tuesday and suffering through an unpleasant night off.
But without Maggette and Kaman, Thornton scored 33 points in 33 minutes Wednesday in the Clippers’ 95-88 win over the Hawks.
“I felt dehydrated, but it kind of wore off a little bit,” Thornton said. “I was pretty much throwing up all day (Tuesday). I think it was something I ate. I tried to gut it out, though.”
Los Angeles only dressed nine players against Atlanta. Maggette, the team’s leading scorer at 20.9 points per game, missed his second straight game, while Kaman—third in the NBA with 13.9 rebounds per game—missed his third in a row with the flu and a bruised lower leg.
Their status for the game in Minnesota is unclear.
Thornton has played somewhat sparingly his rookie season, but had shown flashes of being a major scoring threat before—he’d posted three other 20-point games.
“You tell me another rookie in this game that we can throw the ball to, who can score points like that. It is not the first time he did it,” guard Sam Cassell said.
Cassell, who spent two highly successful seasons with the Timberwolves before being traded to the Clippers in 2005, has been excellent in his last nine games. He’s averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists while shooting 54.5 percent.
Los Angeles hasn’t won back-to-back games since winning its first four games of the season, but can do so in Minnesota in the first game of a season-long seven-game road trip.
Minnesota (9-36) has the worst record in the league, but it’s hard to call the Timberwolves the NBA’s worst team considering their recent play. They’ve won four of six, including wins over Golden State and Phoenix.
They’ve also won three straight home games by an average of 9.7 points. Minnesota beat Chicago 83-67 on Wednesday despite only shooting 36.6 percent and scoring eight points in the first quarter.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. “We’ll take an ugly win over a (pretty) defeat any day.”
Center Al Jefferson has played like an All-Star most of the season—he has 34 double-doubles—and had 26 points and 20 rebounds against the Bulls.
Jefferson, fifth in the league at 12.2 boards per game, has been particularly dominant over his last eight games, averaging 26.0 points and 14.1 rebounds in that span.
Jefferson had 23 points and 15 rebounds in Minnesota’s only meeting with the Clippers this season, a 91-82 loss on Dec. 31.
The flu bug hasn’t just been limited to the Clippers—Rashad McCants, the Timberwolves’ second-leading scorer at 15.0 ppg, missed Wednesday’s game with the flu and is listed as day-to-day.