Cam Thomas maintained his historic score.
And the Nets failed to support him.
The young guard had his third straight breakout night since Kyrie Irving’s departure, but the Nets fell 116-112 before 17,093 at Barclays Center.
Thomas scored a team-high 43 points, the youngest player in league history to score 40 in three consecutive games, and the first time a Net has done so in the NBA. He even surpassed Suns All-Star Devin Booker, who scored 19 in his return from a left groin injury since Christmas.
But the Nets (32-22) offered Thomas little offensive help. Nic Claxton and TJ Warren each had 17 points, with no other net having more than eight points.
They played without injured Kevin Durant and Seth Curry, as well as Spencer Danwiddy and Dorian Finney-Smith (acquired for Irving).
Thomas’ finger roll put Brooklyn down 112-109 with 11 seconds left, and after Booker was fouled, the Suns star surprisingly missed both free throws. The Nets – coming back on a 14-3 run – had a chance, but Phoenix wisely fouled.
While Thomas sank both attempts with 7.7 seconds to play, Suns veteran Chris Paul hit both of his free throws to extend the lead to three. Thomas was fouled with 4 seconds left, sank the first and intentionally missed the second — he finished 18-for-20 at the stripe — but the Nets couldn’t get the rebound they needed.
Deandre Ayton put it on the other end. The center led the Suns with 33 points and 14 boards, winning nine of 11.
The Nets trailed by double figures after Paul (a game-high 12 assists) and Michal Bridges got a runner and a 65-55 lead.
The Nets responded, reeling off 12 unanswered points. A 3-pointer by Joe Harris put them ahead 67-65 midway through the third quarter.
But it was short-lived. The Nets allowed an 11-4 run, when Paul found Ayton for a dunk to take a 76-71 lead with 3:35 left in the period.
Brooklyn was still hanging around down 84-81 when it surrendered a 12-2 run that spanned the quarters, and with 9:27 left, a cutting Cam Johnson layup to the Nets. Dropped 96-83.
The nets kept coming, and 10 runs without reply to get back into it. Warren’s free throws pulled them within three with 6:29 left in regulation, and they got within a point in the waning seconds — but never over the hump.
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