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Cam Thomas, Nic Claxton and season-best half fuel Nets in 124-115 upset of Thunder

NEW YORK — Following the Nets’ fifth straight loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, third-year guard Cam Thomas was quick to remind reporters that he is only human. And as good as he can be offensively, he is not immune to the occasional shooting slump.

Even the greatest scorers in the NBA have to deal with them from time to time. How they respond is what defines them.

Thomas went 0 of 18 from the field over his last two games entering Friday’s rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two straight games without a made shot. But in Brooklyn’s 123-115 upset win over the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference standings, the 22-year-old reminded everyone of just how inhuman he can appear to be when dialed in on offense.

In his fifth straight game off the bench, Thomas broke out of his slump in impressive fashion, starting 4 of 4 from the field and finishing with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting in 24 minutes.

Thomas’ efforts helped the Nets (16-20) snap a season-worst five-game losing streak and notch their first win of the new year. He limped to the bench late in the second quarter with an apparent ankle injury but returned with 2:45 left in the third quarter and was moving around just fine.

However, while Thomas provided his trademark scoring spark in the first half, coach Jacque Vaughn enjoyed a complete team effort at both ends of the court for most of this game. Brooklyn outscored Oklahoma City, 75-47, in the first half and made 10 of their first 21 attempts from 3-point range, finishing 14 of 39 from distance. It was the Nets’ biggest halftime lead and highest-scoring half of the season.

Houston finished plus-18 from behind the arc against the Nets on Wednesday, but Vaughn’s team responded by limiting the Thunder to 9-of-31 shooting from deep on Friday, though they still shot 53.6% from the field overall.

The Thunder did not have an answer for Nic Claxton, either. The center did a little bit of everything. He attacked Chet Holmgren off the dribble and created second-chance opportunities for the Nets on the offensive glass. Purposeful rim running led to aggressive dunks off well-times lobs. He finished with a season-high 23 points, 13 rebounds and three assists in arguably his best two-way performance of the season. Spencer Dinwiddie also chipped in 23 points, his highest-scoring game since Dec. 2.

Keep in mind, Claxton is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and the NBA trade deadline is on Feb. 8. Dinwiddie is also set to test his value on the open market. So these performances are not just important for the Nets. Teams around the league will also continue to keep tabs as the deadline inches closer.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with a game-high 34 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Thunder. Brooklyn’s largest lead on Friday was 32 points. Twenty offensive rebounds and 30 second-chance points contributed to that.

Lonnie Walker IV played just six minutes in his first game since Nov. 30 and missed both of his attempts. Dennis Smith Jr., also back from injury, recorded his second double-double of the season with 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

The Nets will finish their current two-game homestand on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers before departing for the NBA Paris Game next week, where they will face the Cleveland Cavaliers. But will Cam Johnson make the trip?

With 27.6 second left in regulation, Johnson collapsed on the court holding his right hamstring after a physical drive to the rim. Players, coaches and team trainers surrounded him during an ensuing timeout, and he was eventually helped off the court. He finished with nine points on 3-of-15 shooting in the win.