Two of the Nets stars have been finding an equally big-point game groove with one another.
At the beginning of the season, Mikal Bridges and Cam Thomas weren’t always on the same page. One would go off on a 30- to 40-point night while the other would not jump out on the box score.
However, they had been able to ramp up their point totals in the four games ahead of Monday’s 109-98 loss to the Warriors, since Thomas has joined the starting lineup as Dorian Finney-Smith has been out with an ankle sprain and Ben Simmons — when playing — has been coming off the bench.
In his new role, Thomas has averaged 31.8 points on 50 percent shooting from deep, which is significantly higher than his previous 20.5 average on 44 percent shooting that he held in the other 35 games.
In that same span, Bridges averaged 24 points while shooting 45.7 percent. In his previous 44 games, he averaged 21.7 points.
On Monday night, while there was a lack of big scoring and offensive flow, the two were close to one another, as Thomas had 18 (on 4 of 21 shooting, including 0-for-6 from deep) and Bridges tallied 13 (5-for-15 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range).
Bridges credited the developing chemistry to continuous reps together.
“Yeah, just time. I think just time out there. I think this only honestly is the beginning, there’s more reps, more time,” Bridges said at the Nets’ shootaround ahead of Monday’s loss. “But it’s been good. I think just him being out there in our starting line-up makes it easy, too. Where you got two guys and they gotta worry about it. And it makes it easier for the offense.”
In the first three games of the season, Thomas tallied 36, 30, and 33 points while Bridges had 20, 18, and 29 respectively.
More drastically, against Atlanta on Dec. 6, Bridges went off with 32 points and Thomas scored six. Similarly, on Jan. 7, Bridges put up 42 points while Thomas added nine against the Trail Blazers.
“I mean we knew these guys, they’re great players so we knew they was going to figure it out,” Royce O’Neale said Monday morning. “It just takes time. Cam is a great scorer. Mikal is a great scorer. I think them just finding their spots and times to take advantage of the defenses.”
As the Nets struggled with fatigue and the Warriors’ size while being shorthanded against the Warriors, especially after Nic Claxton’s fourth-quarter ejection and Lonnie Walker IV exiting after five minutes with left hamstring tightness, head coach Jacque Vaughn didn’t make any off-the-bench adjustments.
He didn’t play Harry Giles III because he believed the coverage, battling screens, would have been “pretty tough.” As for not utilizing Trendon Watford, Vaughn said he preferred to go back with Dennis Smith Jr. in the final minutes.
“I’m really just gonna go day by day and try to win today’s game and that was just the mindset behind it,” he said.
Vaughn couldn’t provide an update on Walker after the game.
Vaughn said Simmons is scheduled to play on Tuesday against the Mavericks after sitting out Monday’s game for “injury maintenance.”
Finney-Smith (left ankle sprain) remains day-to-day and will not play Tuesday, Vaughn said.