Brooklyn Boro

Nets hope to ‘flush’ home losing streak

Host Harden and Clippers in stand finale at Barclays Center

November 8, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cam Thomas
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Though he ranks a surprising seventh on the list of the NBA’s top scorers thus far this season, Cam Thomas isn’t interested in anything except helping the Brooklyn Nets win their first home game of the year.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard and his teammates will be out do just that Wednesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center when they host newly acquired James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Flush this, and move onto Wednesday,” Thomas lamented Monday night after pouring in a season-high 45 points in a 129-125 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

Fresh off his fifth career game of at least 40 points, Thomas misfired on a pair of long-range jumpers in the final minute of play as Brooklyn fell to 0-3 at home this season.

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The Nets have lost four of Thomas’ 40-plus-point contests, including a 134-105 defeat to Harden’s former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, in last year’s regular-season finale here.

Though “The Beard” sat out that game, he helped the Sixers sweep through the Nets in the opening round of the playoffs.

He refused to suit up for Philadelphia this season, however, and found himself in a Clippers uniform last week after finally receiving the trade he had sought since the summer.

An enigmatic presence here in Brooklyn, Harden helped the Nets reach the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2021 after arriving in a trade-deadline deal from Houston that February.

He grew disillusioned the following campaign and forced a swap between the Nets and Sixers that landed him in the City of Brotherly Love, leaving behind Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and our borough.

James Harden spent parts of two seasons in Brooklyn. He’s returning to Barclays Center Wednesday with the Los Angeles Clippers. AP Photo by John Munson

Now, Harden finds himself playing alongside a trio of fellow superstars in Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

Having made his Clippers debut Monday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, Harden admitted following a 111-97 loss that he was still working his way back into the form that has made him one of the most potent offensive weapons in the sport.

“If I knew (how long it would take), then I’d be a genius at that point,” Harden said after putting up 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with six assists and three rebounds in 31 minutes.

“Hopefully sooner than later,” he added.

The Nets (3-4) are hoping its later as they look to finish off a three-game homestand with their first win in Brooklyn.

Los Angeles (3-3) is also hoping to avert a third consecutive loss, but will be patient with how Harden adjusts to his new environment during this early season stretch.

“So just because you acquire a guy like James Harden doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to win,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue ceded. “You’ve got to put the work in and you’ve got to be ready to sacrifice.”

The Nets will again be without injured starters Cam Johnson (calf) and Nic Claxton (ankle), leaving Thomas to get more touches and continue his early season offensive onslaught.

Brooklyn split two meetings with Los Angeles last year, including a 124-116 defeat to the Clippers here on Feb. 6 that saw Thomas put up a career-high 47 points.

He’d likely swap another high-scoring effort to put the Nets in the win column and send what will likely be a sellout crowd home happy.

Mikal Bridges and the Nets were unable to keep up with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Monday night in Brooklyn. AP Photo by Noah K. Murray

NOTHING BUT NET: Mikal Bridges, who scored 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting in Monday’s loss to the Bucks, believes the Nets need to be strong to the finish if they hope to grab win No. 1 at Barclays Center. “That fourth quarter just got to be everybody locked in and doing everything right. Help rebound, be in the right shifts,” Bridges said. “It’s just that fourth quarter. Learn now. Just got to get better.” … After hosting the Clippers, the Nets will head to Boston Friday night looking to avenge Saturday’s 124-114 loss to the Celtics. … Harden averaged 23.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game during his 80-game stay in Brooklyn spanning two seasons. He also tied Jason Kidd for the most triple-doubles in a single campaign in Nets history despite playing only 36 regular-season games for Brooklyn in 2020-21.

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