What looked like “The Josh Primo Game” early became “The Cam Thomas Show” down the stretch.
Thomas hit yet another clutch shot to lift the Nets to a 3-1 Summer League record with a 104-100 win over the Spurs on Sunday.
And he thoroughly outplayed Primo, the promising young guard the Spurs took 12th overall in the 2021 NBA draft.
Fifteen spots ahead of Thomas.
At just 18 years old, Primo displayed a polished control of the basketball that almost resembles that of the starting shooting guard in Brooklyn. The Spurs’ rookie had a Kyrie Irving-like flare to both his dribble and his shooting form, and finished with 21 points on the night.
Yet while Primo added shock value, the 19-year-old Thomas continues to impress. Another game that goes down to the wire becomes another game the Nets’ rookie rises to the occasion. Thomas scored 36 points on 11-of-25 shooting from the field. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone, where he got to the line eight times and made all of his free throws.
“We basically put the ball in his hands,” Nets Summer League coach Jordan Ott said after his rookie guard’s performance. “He made big shot after big shot.”
If you thought Cam Thomas clutch shots were a fluke, he has three games’ worth of receipts in four tries.
First the clutch shot against the Bucks that made it a five-point game with 1:13 to go (and another pair of free throws to seal the deal). Then the double-OT thriller against the Wizards, in which he hit a shot to send the game to double overtime, then hit a one-footed running 3-point game-winner in sudden death.
Then on Sunday, he lit it up for his highest-scoring Summer League game: a 36-ball against a player at his position who went 15 spots ahead of him in the draft.
It was Thomas who looked like the lottery pick on Sunday night. He side-stepped outside of Primo’s reach and netted a 3 that made it a 98-93 game with under 40 seconds to go. That shot helped power Thomas to No. 1 in Summer League scoring, now averaging 27 points per game.
Primo made a 3 that made it a two-point game with two seconds to go, but the Spurs were forced to foul Thomas, who made his 10th and 11th free throws to ice the game.
“He’s a guy that stays poised throughout the game; never gets too high and never gets low,” said Jordan Bowden, who played for the Long Island Nets last season. “He stays the same. He’s a problem, and it’s fun to watch him play, and score the ball. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Thankfully for the Nets, Thomas slipped to 27 and was there to bail the Nets out on Sunday.
The Spurs jumped out to a 22-8 first quarter lead and led by as many as 16 in the opening period. Gregg Popovich didn’t need to be the Summer League coach to leave an imprint on this game. The Spurs moved in typical Spurs fashion, moving the ball and taking the best available shot. The Nets, in what became typical Nets fashion last season, fell behind early before taking their first lead late in the third quarter.
Just in time for Thomas to put on his cape. The fact that it’s become regular event shows just how much confidence the Nets have in their rookie guard to deliver down the stretch. Ott had seen enough in Thomas’ previous two clutch performances that he knew it was time to get everyone out of the way.
“We thought we could get a little bit more space offensively for Cam because at the end of the game, he’s shooting it,” the coach said. “We understand that. We love that he’s taking those shots. That’s how every NBA game is. At the end of the game, your best players take the shots and they’ve gotta make shots. He did it again.”