In the first NBA preseason game of the year, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 123-97. Rookie guard Cam Thomas scored 21 points to lead the way for Brooklyn.
The Nets were playing without the majority of their regular rotation, including the team's Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who was playing in his first game since retiring in April because of an irregular heartbeat, had six points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Aldridge received medical clearance to return this season.
The Lakers were playing without stars LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Cam Thomas, PG, Nets: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
Paul Milsap, PF, Nets: 10 points, 10 rebounds in 18 minutes
Malik Monk, SG, Lakers: 15 points (6-of-12 FG)
Nets Found a Steal in Cam Thomas
Brooklyn selected guard Cam Thomas with the 27th pick in the first round, and they may have found a gem.
Thomas dazzled in his 22 minutes, finishing with 21 points and demonstrating a strong ability to score off the dribble. He even got around Anthony Davis for a jumper late in the first quarter.
Thomas had the step-back jumper working, but he also wasn't afraid to drive to the basket.
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Thomas, who was named Summer League MVP with Sacramento Kings guard Davion Mitchell after averaging 27 points, looked comfortable on the floor. He showed no fear despite veterans like Davis and Dwight Howard patrolling the paint. Thomas was able to get to the line for seven free throw attempts. His effort on Sunday indicated that he has a bright future.
Thomas led all NCAA freshmen in scoring in his lone season at LSU with 23 points per game. If he's able to duplicate that at the next level, Thomas will be a key part of Brooklyn's rotation.
Nets starting point guard Kyrie Irving missed a total of 18 games last season due to a combination of personal reasons and injuries. If Irving were to miss time this season, Nets coach Steve Nash should feel confident he has an adequate replacement in Thomas.
Dwight Howard Struggles Against Younger Players
Dwight Howard is in his second run with the Lakers, and he's not off to a good start. In 13 minutes of action, Howard struggled to keep up with the younger players on the floor and ended up fouling out. He did manage to score 11 points on 3-for-7 shooting and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Howard's low point came late in the third quarter when he took down rookie Nets center Day'Ron Sharpe. While he was being reviewed for a flagrant foul, Howard ended up getting called for a technical as well. The flagrant foul was confirmed, and Howard was out of the game.
Howard was inexplicably allowed to shoot a free throw, which he made. The referees erased the point after realizing Howard had already fouled out.
Rob Perez @WorldWideWob
Dwight Howard attempted and made a technical FT which he wasnt allowed to shoot because he just fouled out. Refs figured it out like 2 mins after and had to take the point off the board and make them re-shoot with someone else. Picking up right where we left off. Good to be back.
Howard's first stint in Los Angeles in the 2012-13 season was riddled with tension with his teammates and injuries that limited his production. He averaged 17.1 points that year, which at the time was his lowest scoring average since his second year in the NBA.
Howard will be counted on this season to provide frontcourt depth behind Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan. He will have to shore up his defense if he hopes to help the Lakers win their second championship in three years.
The Nets will take on the Milwaukee Bucks at home Friday. The Lakers are set for a quick turnaround and will travel to face the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.