Cam Thomas delivered an impressive 40-point performance, complemented by Mikal Bridges‘ 23 points, leading the Brooklyn Nets to a decisive 136-121 victory over the undermanned Philadelphia 76ers during Saturday’s NBA action.
Thomas, celebrating his third 40-point game of the season and seventh in his two-year career, highlighted the team’s effective start and ability to distribute the ball efficiently.
“We started out well, and the ball was finding the open man,” Thomas said. “Everybody was making shots. It was a great thing that we started out well, and today was another good start. We have to keep it up.”
The 76ers faced the challenge without Joel Embiid, their star player and reigning NBA MVP, who missed the game due to a left meniscus injury sustained earlier in the week. In Embiid’s absence, Philadelphia has struggled, recording a 4-10 record.
76ers coach Nick Nurse refrained from using their depleted roster as an excuse, emphasizing the need for better defensive play, particularly in guarding the 3-point line.
“It was a tough one tonight with the manpower, but I don’t like to use any excuses,” Nurse said. “We still should have tried to play a little better — especially at the defensive end and guard the three-point line. Obviously, we gave up way too many and way too many open ones.”
Thomas, who has been in exceptional form, averaging 36.3 points over the last four games, took advantage of the defensive gaps left by Embiid’s absence. He notably scored 21 points during a ten-minute stretch in the third quarter, helping to widen the lead.
“I’ve always felt that I was always on the scouting report because of my ability to score,” Thomas said. “Now, they aren’t letting me get to (isolation) as much, so I have to get a mismatch and make a right read.”
Lonnie Walker IV contributed 20 points, aiding the Nets in securing their third win in four games after a challenging period. While facing his former team, Ben Simmons didn’t score but contributed with nine rebounds and five assists in 14 minutes of play.
Tyrese Maxey led the scoring with 23 points for Philadelphia, following his career-high 51-point game against Utah. However, the 76ers were also without Tobias Harris, Nicolas Batum, DeAnthony Melton, and Robert Covington due to various injuries and illnesses, which further hampered their performance.
“You try to get into simple acts like pick and roll, but they made it difficult because of the trap and did different things,” Maxey said. “You try to do the basic stuff that you learn in training camp, but there was a lot of different lineups and guys who haven’t been playing together in situation.”
The Nets capitalized on Philadelphia’s weakened lineup, showcasing effective ball movement and exploiting the 76ers’ defensive lapses. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn praised the team’s pace and the execution of their drive-and-kick strategy as possibly their best of the season.
“We had a different pace in our group, and our drive-and-kick was probably the best of the year,” Vaughn said.
Nic Claxton was a significant presence for Brooklyn, securing 15 rebounds and scoring 12 points, taking advantage of Embiid not being in the paint. It only helped the Nets that 3-point shooting results were in their favor, too, going 20 for 51 from beyond the arc.
“We’ve been trying to play that way with multiple shooters on the floor,” Vaughn said. “The fact that Joel was not at the rim was to our advantage tonight because we were able to get to the paint and see him staring at us. That piece was definitely in our favor.”
Looking ahead, the Nets are set to host the Golden State Warriors, while the 76ers will welcome the Dallas Mavericks, both games scheduled for Monday night.