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Historic Comeback: Cam Thomas ices Nets’ 28-point comeback to beat Knicks, 111-106

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Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It was the biggest comeback in franchise history, and it happened at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.

Climbing all the way up from 28-points down, Brooklyn defeated New York, 111-106. With the historical comeback win, the Nets rise to 31-27 on the season and now hold a 103-101 all-time record against their cross-town rival. The 28-point comeback ties the largest deficit overcome in a win in the team’s 55-year history, tying the comeback against the Kings in March of 2019. It also carried a bit of history for the Manhattanites: it was Knicks’ fourth blown double-digit lead of month ... and third of 20+ points.

“At halftime, we just said ‘this is a test of a character.’ We want to continue to build the resolve, try to win the third quarter, get more physical on both ends, and play the right way,” said Steve Nash after the big win. We get something out of the game whether we win or lose. We’ll grow. We’ll get better but like I keep saying during this stretch, we’ve struggled a lot but we’ve asked the players for things and they brought it,” “Tonight, that’s really all it came down to.”

Down 18 in the fourth quarter, it was Cam Thomas (16 points in the fourth quarter) who provided sensational shooting to generate a 15-0 run for Brooklyn. The run included Brooklyn’s first lead of the game with 3:58 left. Then, Brooklyn entered the final minute of action nursing a 104-103 lead. LaMarcus Aldridge drilled a patient midrange jumper from the left elbow to make it a 106-103 advantage with 56.6 seconds left.

After a missed three by New York, the Nets' next possession was a chaotic one but ended with a big offensive rebound by Bruce Brown and an acrobatic save by Mills. Out of an inbounds play, Thomas crept towards the top of the key and drilled a 29-foot three to make it a six-point game with 7.7 seconds left on the clock — a play Nash said, “exactly how I drew it up.”

“It was 16.0 on the shot-clock. We went into the backcourt, and then when I saw Coach Steve tell everyone flatten out, I knew it was one-on-one time,” said Thomas breaking down his game-winner. “I went to my go-to move. Glad it went in because I was struggling tonight.”

His teammates reacted appropriately...

New York answered with a 26-foot three by Evan Fournier to bring it back to a three-point game (109-106) 4.8 seconds on the clock, but Aldridge iced the contest with two free throws.

Thomas ended his memorable night with a team-high 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. The rookie grabbed four rebounds and dished two assists as well in his 30 minutes of play off the bench.

“We know that about Cam. We’ve seen it in Summer League. We’ve seen it in times this year. He loves the big moments,” said the Nets head coach on Thomas’ series of big shots in the fourth quarter. “There’s a gene in there somewhere, and he has that.”

Seth Curry had another 20+ point outing for Brooklyn and played a pivotal role in the comeback quest. The new Net concluded the comeback win with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting overall and 6-of-9 shooting from behind the arc. In addition, Curry dished six assists and grabbed one board.

“It was big. Even he was struggling at first and then in the third quarter, he hit like two-three threes, and then he hit a big three for us in the fourth to put us up one on a scramble. Seth played great,” Thomas said of Curry, 11 years his senior. “I’m just happy he’s with us now.”

Brooklyn’s bigs had key performances in different ways Wednesday night. LaMarcus Aldridge provided a patient scoring punch with 18 points on 50 percent shooting overall. He finished with his first double-double of the season, snagging 10 boards as well. Andre Drummond didn’t take long to grab the most rebounds in a single Nets game this season. He ended with a double-double of 11 points and a game-high 19 rebounds in 23 minutes.

In the end, it may not have been the biggest win of the season. It was, after all, against the lowly Knicks, but it sure was the most satisfying.

As for the game, it started off on a hideous note but concluded with a masterful ending that will be one stored in the history books.

The Nets started Mills, Curry, Brown, Johnson and Drummond against the Knicks. New York got off to a 4-of-4 shooting start from 3-point range, while Brooklyn struggled to get open looks offensively. The Knicks took a 14-7 lead in the opening minutes of the first.

The first quarter got ugly as each second passed. The Nets shooting woes prolonged throughout the first, going only 6-of-27 overall and 1-of-13 from behind the arc. The inconsistent offensive play, forced by a good stretch of Knicks defense resulted in New York going up 14 points (28-14) entering the final three minutes of the period. By the end of the first, the Knicks manned a 20-point lead (38-18).

The play from Brooklyn remained hideous with a small sprinkle of hope. New York carried over their near-perfect start into the second quarter, ballooning their lead to 50-23 with 8:41 left. The Knicks’ biggest lead stood at 28 points. The Nets, who could barely forge a single pretty offensive play, clawed together a 9-0 run spanning three minutes of play entering the closing three minutes of play. An 18-point deficit was the closest Brooklyn got. At halftime, the Knicks lead was 65-44.

“I thought they were more physical than us in the first half. We expected that. They lost a couple in a row. We know Thibs would have them fired up and combated, and I thought they were more physical than us,” said Nash on the first half play.

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

After halftime, It turned into a completely different game for Brooklyn. The Nets came out of the locker room with an 8-0 run forged by an increased energy level and a pair of threes by Curry and Mills. Manned by a collective effort of scoring and Drummond snagging boards on both ends, the Knicks lead was trimmed down to nine points with 6:14 remaining in the frame.

“We were all positive. We were all saying we’re gonna come back. They’ll let us back in, so we were just staying positive, staying confident, and that’s what happened,” said Thomas on turning it around in the third. “The vibe was real good. Nobody was down. We just kept playing. Kept going and we knew we would have a chance to win this game, and we did.”

New York responded, building on to their small nine-point lead by getting to the basket with Drummond on the bench mixed with open looks from behind the arc. Brooklyn did their best digging out of a 28-point hole but ended the third trailing by 14 (87-73).

The opening minutes had Brooklyn and New York trading buckets with a 14-point lead hovering above, but the Nets found a groove and a breakthrough opportunity midway through the final frame. They forged a 15-0 run, led by the tough shot-making of Thomas that spanned nearly four minutes of play, taking their first lead of the night entering the final three minutes.

“Staying aggressive. That was the main key,” said Thomas on overcoming his shooting struggles in the fourth quarter. “When the offense turned into angle pick-and-rolls and getting into post-screens, that’s when I got my rhythm. I had a few layups. That’s what really got me going and then when the pick-and-rolls starting coming to me, the midranges were big. That’s practice shots. Great strategy.”

In the closing 16 seconds of action, Thomas slowly made his way to the top of the arc and drilled that 29-foot three to make it a six-point game with 7.7 seconds left on the clock. Brooklyn went on to escape MSG with a comeback for the ages, and another massive Knicks collapse.

As the Daily News back page editor put it...

Said it all.

The Film Room

MSG. The world’s most famous arena. Many a legend has been born on those sacred basketball grounds. Michael Jordan’s 55 points in 1995. Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points as a Knick, setting the Garden’s all-time scoring record. Steph Curry’s 54 points in 2013, a game that is widely known as the then-25-year-old’s coronation to stardom. Something about this arena, its holy hardwood food that brings out great things from hoopers.

Cam Thomas was no exception.

You’ve probably seen the final shot by now on social media, maybe SportsCenter. But one more time, go ahead. Rejoice in it. Breathe in its brilliance. Taste the droplets of All-Star caliber confidence oozing from Cam Thomas’ fingertips as he releases the stepback three, time itself clenching up in unison with the loyal Garden fans gripping tightly on their beverages.

A moment in time, maybe not a historic one. And maybe not one that rolls off the tip of our tongues when detailing the lavish past of this famous arena. But still, one nonetheless. One you had to be there for. One of the few moments we’ve had this otherwise drab Nets season.

“It’s up there for sure because it’s in the NBA at the garden. So definitely I’ll definitely say that right now. That’s my top-two favorite shot. Summer League shot, that was pretty cool for me too,” said Thomas about his big shot. “Everything in NBA is up there for me. So I would say this is number one else, though, because, you know, 28-point combat, top of the key, it’s kind of one-on-one, really. So, it’s up there.”

You can just feel it. This kid is a star in the making. It’s all about if he can put the pieces together now to fully reach his potential.

With the Brigade

More than 50 Nets fans, adorned in black-and-white, waving a banner, shouting and generally being rowdy, gathered in Section 217 at MSG Wednesday. And oh yes, they did some chanting, “Broook-lyn.” How rowdy? For most of the second half, the Garden assigned two security guards to the section, silently watching the antics (and tossing one fan who was having far too much fun matching wits with the preppiest of Knick fans.)

In the end, after the Cam Show, there was no calming them. High fives dominated as did that “Broook-lyn” chant which we are reliably told could be heard on the Nets bench and press row. As Kevin Durant tweeted...

Good times. One of the two teams’ owner was impressed...

The other one, the Brooook-lyn chants stinging his ears, not so much...

Milestone Watch

The Nets have won their last two games, outscoring the Kings and Knicks in the second half, 121-78 (+43), including 67-38 (+29) in the fourth quarter. The newest Nets, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry have played well in their first two games as Nets.

Drummond is averaging 11.0 ppg and 14.0 rpg in 23.5 mpg (+27). Drummond (11 points, 19 boards) registered his first double-double in black-and-white, his eighth of the season.

Curry, who averaged 15.0 in 45 games in Philly, is averaging 21.5 ppg (53.1 percent overall, 52.9 from three), 4.0 rpg and 5.5 apg in 34.0 mpg (+41). His hot 3-point shooting has moved him into fourth all-time in deep shooting, just behind Joe Harris.

Once again, Ben Simmons was on the Nets bench sitting next to Kevin Durant, cheering and waiting his turn.

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets will play their final game before hitting the All-Star break on Thursday, February 17 against the Wizards at Barclays Center. The game is slated to tip 7:30 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective on Wednesday night’s contest, check out Posting and Toasting — our sister site covering the Knicks.