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SOLEM COLUMN: Onalaska’s Matt Thomas drops 20, and it’s got Magic Johnson talking



@Lakers on Twitter

Former Hilltoppper scores 20, going 6-for-7 from deep for Lakers.

LAS VEGAS — When Magic Johnson is both “yelling” at and praising you, it’s a good night. Onalaska, Wis., native Matt Thomas had a good night.

It wasn’t just that the 6-foot-5 shooting guard dropped an NBA Summer League career high 20, going 6-for-7 from beyond the arc in the 108-98 Los Angeles Lakers NBA Summer League semifinal win over the Dallas Mavs on Sunday.

No, Thomas also got a little advice from Magic, who was sitting at half court, along with some postgame love from the legend.

“I was trying to keep my focus on the court,” Thomas said after the win. “He actually said something to me at halftime. He said to slow down.

“I had a little issue turning the ball over tonight. It’s just nice having him there supporting us.”

Magic and Thomas were right because he did have seven turnovers. But, when you go 7-for-10 from the field — and win the game — it makes up for it.

Here’s Magic on Thomas after the game — oh, and about that Lonzo Ball guy the Lakers have, too.

Thomas was also asked about his Twitter handle TheIceMan_21 in the postgame interview.

“I made some clutch shots, clutch free throws when I was a freshman in high school,” Thomas said of his Onalaska High School days. “And, they just called me Matty Ice and that just turned into the Ice Man.”

Perhaps someone should tell Thomas he’s ripping off “Matty Ice,” Matt Ryan’s nickname, of the Atlanta Falcons — who is certainly not clutch — OR “Iceman” Val Kilmer’s nickname from Top Gun.


As for playing with that Ball guy, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, who has had a couple triple-doubles, dropped 36 points one game and pulled his hamstring Sunday night after having 16 points and 10 assists, including this play:

A fist pass? Actually, I think that’s illegal in the NBA, punching the ball.

“Extremely fun,” Thomas said of playing with Ball. 

No kidding.

“I’ve never really played like a guy that can pass like him,” Thomas added, throwing his high school teammate Ben Socha under the bus.

Socha scored seven points, going 3-for-4, and added an assist in leading Onalaska to a WIAA Division 2 state championship in 2012 — a game in which Thomas scored 30, going 9-for-18 from the field, in 30 minutes and added 11 rebounds.

What comes next is L.A. takes on the Portland Trailblazers in the championship at 9 p.m. on ESPN, and Thomas hopes to put on one more show to make a good impression with the team.

“I’m just trying to play hard and whatever happens, happens,” Thomas said.

Here are the semifinal highlights:

Oh, and that “yelling” thing at the beginning of this column, that is sarcasm for those who can’t tell.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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