Today, for the first time in his professional career, Xavier Thames saw his name in the starting five: he was one of the two guards the Brooklyn Nets started against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Summer League.
And what was his first significant contribution to the action? You guessed it: a steal. Philadelphia guard Casper Ware couldn't handle a bad pass from Ronald Roberts, Jr. with 6:37 left in the first quarter. Thames reacted quickly, hauled in the deflection and began the fast break.
Unfortunately, this great play didn't end so well: Thames was one-on-two against Nerlens Noel and Roberts, Jr., and Noel proved why he was once heralded as a No. 1 NBA prospect as he swatted away Thames' lay-up attempt.
Fast forward 33:23, and the final scoreboard showed the Nets losing 92-86, despite having a 6-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Thames didn't directly contribute offensively much during the game, scoring 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting. But the young Net did dish out two assists, recorded a team-high four steals and committed zero turnovers. And with those assists and steals, Thames contributed a good offensive chunk indirectly: his assists and steals led to 13 Brooklyn points.
Thames played especially well about midway through the fourth quarter. The Nets trailed the 76ers 75-70 with 7:19 left. The two sides traded possessions a couple times, then Thames got hot. With 6:13 to go, Thames scored a transition layup off a Michael Jenkins steal and a nice Donte Green assist. Eleven seconds later, Thames stole a bas pass from Ware, and Jenkins nailed a 3-pointer in the ensuing possession. Just like that, Thames and the Nets had erased a 5-point deficit and tied it at 75.
However, the Nets needed consistent scoring down the stretch. Thames was replaced by Marquis Teague, who had scored 12 points, for the last 5:46 of the game.
Brooklyn took the lead 80-78 after Markel Brown drained a 3-pointer with 4:05 left, but the team couldn't hold onto the lead and lost 92-86.
Noel and Ware were tremendous for the 76ers. Noel scored 14 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked five shots. Ware shot 9-of-17 for 24 points and recorded eight assists.