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CLIPPERS FYI

Al Thornton focusing on conditioning

The Clippers small forward has hired a personal chef to help him with his diet and nutrition in hopes of becoming leaner and faster.

October 12, 2009|Mark Medina

Before eating chicken-fried steak and yams following Sunday's practice, Clippers forward Al Thornton sprinkled so much salt that it caught the attention of guard Baron Davis.

"That doesn't have enough seasoning, huh?" Davis said, laughing.

Apparently not, but Thornton doesn't mind.

After spending an entire season last year eating what he described as "greasy foods," Thornton hired a personal chef three weeks ago to improve his diet. He hopes that leads into becoming a leaner and quicker player.

The team has already noticed the change in Thornton, who will start at small forward tonight when the Clippers play host to the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center in what will be their third exhibition.

Coach Mike Dunleavy said Thornton "has really good energy in our practices and has worked really hard." Davis noticed that "he's running the floor a lot faster."

And Thornton?

"I have a lot more energy," he said. "I don't get tired. The last game, I didn't get tired at all to be honest with you. That's thanks to the nutritionist and the extra conditioning I'm getting in."

The latter part has become a staple of the Clippers' preseason. The coaching staff and players unanimously say poor conditioning exacerbated team injuries and eventually led to a 19-63 campaign. For Thornton, he said part of the poor conditioning was because of his diet. It was common to see a McDonald's bag by his locker before a game.

Though Thornton finished second on the team last season in scoring with 16.8 points per game, he finished with a 12.7 player efficiency rating because of inconsistent shooting and defensive decisions.

"I was trying to add muscle," Thornton said of last season. "But that's not my game."

Instead, he is concentrating on a healthy lifestyle. Thornton, who has averaged 10.5 points through two exhibitions, eats small meals spread out between every two and three hours. That includes food such as egg whites, spinach, oatmeal, protein shakes, fruit and chicken salad. He said he weighs 230 pounds after weighing 235 last season, and ultimately wants to slim down to 215.

"I like to get up and down," said Thornton, who is entering his third year with the Clippers. "I'm a player that uses my athleticism. I think the lighter I am, the better player I will be."

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Etc.

Dunleavy said he plans on having the following players start tonight: Davis (point guard), Eric Gordon (shooting guard), Thornton (small forward), Marcus Camby (power forward) and Chris Kaman (center).

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mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesmedina

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