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Cam Thomas scores 19 in Summer League debut but Nets lose to Grizzlies

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets two first rounders had decent debuts Monday in Brooklyn’s Summer League opener but after a back-and-forth contest in Las Vegas, the Grizzlies prevailed, 91-84.

Thomas, who the Nets took at No. 27, finished with 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting (1-of-6 from deep) in 25 minutes off the bench. The 6’4” shooting guard, who led the NCAA in free throws last year at LSU, went to the line eight times, making six, often fearlessly. (The original box score for the game had Thomas with 17 but late Monday, it was revised. Two points that were mistakenly counted for Quinndary Weatherspoon were added to Thomas’ total.)

After the game, Thomas admitted it took him a while to get into a rhythm,

“My first pro game,” said Thomas. “I didn’t play in the G League like some of these guys or play in the pros. You know, this is my first pro game, so I’m just getting a feel for everything, came off the bench. So I just had to get a rhythm, get a flow for everything. Once I got a nice rhythm, I felt like I was pretty, you know, just basketball from there on.”

Indeed, in the second half, Thomas went 4-of-8 and scored 10 points in the fourth when the Nets made a bid to win. But Brooklyn couldn’t stop second year player Desmond Bane who finished with 32.

Thomas’ biggest moment came in the fourth with the Nets down two and a second on the 24-second clock. The 19-year-old eluded a defender and fired a three from deep in the corner.

That was their last lead as the Grizzlies went on a 14-4 run to end the game.

Day’Ron Sharpe, who was taken two spots after Thomas, played only 14 minutes but snared eight boards and scored six points. Jordan Ott, the Brooklyn assistant who’s coaching the Summer League entry, liked what he saw.

You can feel him,” said Ott. “You can feel him from the bench. I’m sure you can feel him on the court, on both ends of the ball. It’s the rebounding and it’s also his rim protection. You can tell a couple times, Memphis’ ballhandlers would get downhill, and all of a sudden he’d be there protecting the paint. You can really see that, so it’s pretty impressive stuff for that young man.”

Both Thomas and Sharpe finished with a positive +/-. Neither player started for the Nets as Ott went with a mostly more experienced crew with one surprise, the undrafted David Duke Jr. Duke, a 6’5” swingman with a 39” max vertical, scored seven points on 3-of-8 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.

Both Alize Johnson and Reggie Perry, who played with the Nets last season, got big minutes. Perry led the team with 12 rebounds but shot only 2-of-10. Johnson had 13 points and seven rebounds. Perry finished with a -20 +/- and Johnson a -19.

None of the Nets three second rounders got minutes, but with three games in four days, that’s likely to change.

Weatherspoon, a shooting guard who played with Perry at Mississippi State, finished with 13 points after the box score was revised. Brandon Knight, hoping to come back after a year off, had a tough time. He went 2-of-9 including 1-of-7 from deep and racked up seven personal fouls.

Thomas said he considered the game a learning experience ... in preparation for whatever role the Nets plan for him.

“I just want to come in and learn as much as possible so I can contribute right away, whether that’s right away or later in the season — whenever my name is called,” said Thomas. “So I just want to learn from those guys and have them coach them up and teach me as much as they can so I can have the ability to contribute whenever my name is called. So hopefully it’s at the beginning of the year, but if it’s later, I just want to do my job to be ready.”

Ott also cleared up the mystery of why Nic Claxton wasn’t in Las Vegas. After playing only 47 games in two years, there were reports he’d get some minutes in the Summer League.

“Some of that stuff is all Sean, the front office. Steve [Nash] goes into it,” Ott told The Post. “You know, 14 guys, we’re happy. Whatever 14 guys we’ve got, we try to make them the best we can, get them better this week. We’re excited with who we have here.

“Nic’s been in the gym. Nic’s been working, he’s been with us this whole time. I think that was just a discussion, collaborative discussion between him, his people, our people, and they felt the best was don’t play summer league.”

The Nets play again Wednesday at 4 p.m. vs. the Bucks. It’ll be televised on ESPN2.