Thomas helps Nets rally from 23 down to beat Wizards 125-123
NEW YORK (AP) — Cam Thomas scored a career-high 44 points off the bench and the short-handed Brooklyn Nets rallied from a 23-point deficit to stun the Washington Wizards 125-123 on Saturday night.
Edmond Sumner also set a personal best with 29 points and Nic Claxton had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Nets, who had their largest comeback win of the season and swept the regular-season series against the Wizards.
Washington also lost to Portland 124-116 on Friday night after blowing a 20-point lead. The Wizards became the first NBA team in the last 25 seasons to lose on consecutive days after being up by 20 or more points in each, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Patty Mills added 13 points and Royce O’Neale had 10 for the Nets, who trailed 44-21 late in the first quarter.
“We responded,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Definitely a shift in our mentality and we got rewarded for it.”
The victory came despite Brooklyn being without Kyrie Irving, who was out with what the team said was right calf soreness — a day after he told the Nets he wants to be traded, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press. Vaughn said after the win that Irving didn’t attend the game and that the player’s absence was excused.
“We were all in agreement on him not being here tonight,” Vaughn said.
The Nets, who also played without Kevin Durant (right knee MCL sprain), T.J. Warren (left shin contusion) and Ben Simmons (left knee soreness), also lost Seth Curry (left adductor) and Markieff Morris (sore left knee) in the game.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Wizards with 38 points before fouling out. Deni Avdija finished with 23 points, Monte Morris added 18 and Corey Kispert had 15 for beleaguered Washington.
“What can I say?” Porzingis told The Washington Post. “It’s very similar games (with Friday’s loss), right? (The Nets) played together, stayed together throughout everything. And not that we didn’t give our all, not that we didn’t play hard — just some stupid mistakes maybe. And, again, it slipped out of our hands.”
Entering the fourth quarter, Washington was clinging to a 99-92 lead but Mills, Thomas, and Yuta Watanabe scored eight points to help Brooklyn close to 102-100. Porzingis replied with a 14-footer and two free throws to extend the Wizards’ lead to 106-101.
It didn’t last long.
Mills and Sumner made baskets to cut it to 106-105, but Porzingis’ three-point play pushed the lead back to four. Thomas converted a layup and a two-handed dunk on Brooklyn’s next two possessions to tie it at 109-109.
After Washington took a 110-109 lead on a free throw by Porzingis, Brooklyn went ahead for the first time in the game on Thomas’ 3-pointer with 5:46 left. Porzingis knocked down two free throws to tie it again.
With the Nets ahead 120-119, Morris gave the Wizards the lead again on a pair of free throws. But Thomas made a jumper, Morris had a pull-up jumper and Thomas made a layup and then a free throw after Daniel Gafford was called for goaltending and Avdija whistled for a foul — giving Brooklyn a 125-123 lead.
Washington had a chance to tie when Thomas was called for a foul, but Morris missed both foul shots and the Nets got the rebound and ran out the clock.
“We’re all pros at the end of the day. It’s not like only two people can play,” Thomas said. “A lot of guys contribute and play and help at any time.”
Wizards: Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said before the game Bradley Beal was out with “left foot soreness.” At some point during the Wizards’ 124-116 loss to Portland on Friday night, Beal landed on Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons’ foot. “He was able to get through, (but) you could tell there were some moments throughout the third or fourth quarter when he just didn’t move correctly,” Unseld Jr. said. “So he’ll get re-evaluated this afternoon, this evening and tomorrow.” Beal, in his 10th season, is averaging 22.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game.
Nets: Much of Vaughn’s pregame availability was spent discussing Irving’s trade demand, which became public Friday afternoon. The Nets entered the game third in the Atlantic Division, fourth in the Eastern Conference, and sixth overall in the NBA. “I think you make this as simple as possible,” Vaughn said. “With the group, you’re extremely honest with these guys. ... So I think that’s the approach with this group: focus on today. That doesn’t change. We’ve been really good at just locking in and doing our jobs.”
Wizards: Host Cleveland on Monday night.
Nets: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports