Rookie Sindarius Thornwell looks to find his spots with Clippers

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, drives to the basket against Clippers rookie guard Sindarius Thornwell on Oct. 8.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

DeAndre Jordan hammed it up for news cameras Monday by greeting Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell during the rookie’s interview session with reporters.

“You remember how I told you to move yesterday?” Jordan asked the 22-year-old second-round pick from South Carolina.

When Jordan left the scene, Thornwell confided, “I don’t know who he’s talking about … .”

But injuries to forward Danilo Gallinari (sprained left foot) and guard Austin Rivers (strained right glute) that kept both out of practice Monday have accelerated the need for Thornwell to absorb as much as he can as quickly as he can.


“I pick up stuff real easy. I know that if someone has to tell you something twice, they move on to the next person,” Thornwell said.

Thornwell played 21 minutes Sunday in the Clippers’ preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers, contributing 14 points while connecting on two three-pointers.

“He was aggressive and confident. Everyone’s telling him to play his game. He went out and did that,” Clippers forward Wesley Johnson said.

Thornwell made it to the Final Four last season at South Carolina, playing under intense disciplinarian Frank Martin.

“With Coach, if you’re not playing defense, you’re not playing, so I want to play defense. It’s natural and easy for me to do that,” Thornwell said. “That’s my niche — being able to give guys breaks on the defensive end so they can be more aggressive on offense.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said while the injuries to Gallinari and Austin Rivers are unwanted, the urgency of needing Thornwell for significant minutes doesn’t worry him.

“I believed he would find his way on the floor anyway, so he’s just doing it earlier,” Rivers said. “Obviously, we need him now. We don’t necessarily want to need him, but he can play.”

Thornwell’s charm and energy while enduring the tepid NBA initiation of being labeled “Rook No. 2” by Jordan has revealed his positive attitude.

“I only have one order: To sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ to whoever in the organization has one,” Thornwell said.

In practice Monday, Thornwell edged first-round pick Jawun Evans in a three-point shooting competition, and his interest in knocking down even 15-footers brought him to wail on the occasional miss.

Playing time is “what I want,” he said. “The more reps you get, the more comfortable you get.”

Injury update

With a scrimmage coming Tuesday followed by another practice Wednesday before Thursday’s next-to-last preseason game against Sacramento at Staples Center, Rivers said he’s hopeful Gallinari can play against the Kings.

“That would be nice,” Rivers said. “I don’t think Austin will be back, but I’m not sure yet. … You just adjust. Everybody has injuries. I don’t feel sorry for us, and no one else will. We just have to … figure it out.”

Fixing the holes

After the Clippers gave up 134 points Sunday, Rivers said he’s intent to address defensive lapses that Johnson attributed to “timing” and “rotation.”

“Practice is important. [Allen] Iverson would hate that statement, but it is,” Rivers said. “We’re going to have to use practices with referees and go from there.

“We just have to be more disciplined, that’s for sure. That’s why you practice. We’ll get it. We better.”