Powell is trying to fit into a role

Times Staff Writer

Near the end of training camp at Santa Barbara, Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy pointed out two players who had dazzled: forwards Al Thornton and Josh Powell.

As the season opener nears, Thornton is continuing on that path, and Powell is looking to shrug off a shaky exhibition season.

After playing 48 minutes in the Clippers’ first two exhibition games, Powell played only 38 minutes over the next five.


In seven games, he averaged 14.3 minutes, 2.4 points and 3.0 rebounds, and shot only 23.5% from the field.

While still seeing the flashes that led him to compliment the third-year player at training camp, Dunleavy said Powell may need to slow down some on the court.

“He’s playing hard, and sometimes too aggressively or too fast,” Dunleavy said. “He’s hurrying things, but I like his effort.”

Part of the decline in minutes is a result of the steady exhibition play of second-year center Paul Davis, who can also play power forward and probably assured himself a spot in the early-season rotation.

“I definitely want minutes, and I definitely work hard and give the effort to try and earn those minutes,” Powell said. “But the coach hasn’t made a decision for what he feels works and all I can do is keep plugging away and stay positive, be patient and try not to let it bother me. But it’s tough.”

Powell played nearly 17 minutes in the final exhibition game, against Golden State on Friday, and shot zero for three with one rebound and four fouls.

A mobile post player at 6 feet 9 and 235 pounds, Powell said he might be pressing a bit to make an impression on his coaches and teammates after spending the last two seasons with three teams.

“I’ve been in the league for a couple years and haven’t really played with the teams I’ve been on,” he said. “Knowing the situation and the opportunity, I feel like I always have to do something to be noticed. That’s just on me and how I feel.”

Thornton, who sat out Sunday’s practice because of a sore right ankle, acknowledged being a little fatigued after the last exhibition game.

“The hardest thing for me is the back-to-back games,” he said. “I know it’s only preseason, but I haven’t had a chance to rest.”

Thornton, along with Corey Maggette, regularly shoots baskets long after practices end. Leonard Hamilton, Thornton’s coach at Florida State, labeled him a gym rat, but that approach may have to be tempered some to sustain an entire season in the NBA.

Just in time, Dunleavy gave the team Saturday off to rest.

“We had a stretch of games and practices where we’ve been going pretty hard,” he said. “All of our guys were kind of tired and needed a day off.”

Tim Thomas (sore lower back), Brevin Knight (strained left hip flexor) and Aaron Williams (calf strain) also did not practice. All should be ready in time for the opener against the Warriors on Friday.




Friday vs. Golden State

at Staples Center, 7:30, Prime