Nets scoring sensation Cam Thomas is going to miss some time.
The team did not disclose the severity of the sprain, which occurred when Thomas stepped on defender P.J. Tucker’s foot during the third quarter.
Thomas, 22, needed help as he limped into the Barclays Center tunnel and was quickly ruled out. After the game, Thomas entered the locker room on a scooter with his ankle in a heavy ice wrap.
He’s now set to begin a rehabilitation program, the Nets said.
Thomas leads the Nets with 26.9 points per game through eight games. He’s scored at least 30 points four times this season, including a season-best 45 in Monday’s loss to Milwaukee.
His absence marks the latest big blow to a Brooklyn team that was already down three starters Wednesday against the Clippers. Playmaking point guard Ben Simmons sat out with left hip soreness stemming from an injury he suffered Monday against the Bucks, while center Nic Claxton (left ankle sprain) and forward Cam Johnson (left calf strain) haven’t played since the season-opener on Oct. 25.
Claxton and Johnson both participated in a scrimmage Wednesday with the G League affiliate Long Island Nets, though Brooklyn has not said when they or Simmons are expected to return to the NBA club.
The 6-10 Claxton, whom the Nets have listed as day-to-day, told reporters over the weekend he’s dealing with a dreaded high ankle sprain, which typically carries a longer recovery time than a low ankle injury.
The torrid Thomas helped keep the undermanned Nets afloat, starting seven games in a row before suffering his injury. He became the second-youngest player to score at least 30 points in each of his team’s first three games, behind only Shaquille O’Neal, who achieved the feat as a 21-year-old rookie with Orlando in 1993.
The injury interrupts a magical start for Thomas, who was making the most of increased playing time after defensive issues and a reliance on isolation scoring limited his minutes in past seasons.
“He’s enjoying competing on both ends of the floor and that part of it, I think, he is gaining an extreme amount of trust with his teammates,” coach Jacque Vaughn said after Thomas scored 33 in a win over Charlotte late last month. “We know he has the ability to score the basketball, but it’s not forced. It’s within the flow of our offense.”
Thomas had been emerging as a go-to option late in games for the Nets, including scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter Monday against the Bucks.
“That’s who Cam is, man: a certified bucket,” Mikal Bridges said after that game. “Honestly, our best scorer.”
Bridges is the Nets’ only opening day starter to appear in every game this season. Wednesday marked his 400th consecutive game to begin his NBA career, marking the longest active streak in the league.
Without Thomas and others, the 4-4 Nets will have to rely further on their enviable depth, starting Friday night in Boston against the 5-2 Celtics. Lonnie Walker, Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Trendon Watford, Armoni Brooks and Day’Ron Sharpe have each delivered big games for Brooklyn this season.
“It was devastating to see one of us go down,” Sharpe said Wednesday after Thomas’ injury. “But I think we just all, the collective group, came and stepped up. … Our bench is deep, so when guys go down, we’ve got guys who can step in.”