Cam Thomas kept up his historic scoring.
And the Nets kept on failing to support him.
The young guard had a third straight stellar night following the departure of Kyrie Irving, but the Nets fell 116-112 to the Suns before 17,093 at Barclays Center.
Thomas poured in a team-high 43 points, the youngest player in league history to crack 40 in three consecutive games, and the first time a Net has ever done so in the NBA. He even outdueled Suns All-Star Devin Booker, who had 19 in his return from the left groin injury that had sidelined him since Christmas.
But the Nets (32-22) offered Thomas little offensive help. Nic Claxton and T.J. Warren had 17 points each, with no other Net finishing with more than eight points.
They played without injured Kevin Durant and Seth Curry, as well as Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith (the players acquired for Irving).
Thomas’ finger roll left Brooklyn down 112-109 with 11 seconds left, and after fouling Booker, watched the Suns star shockingly miss both free throws. The Nets — on a 14-3 run to storm back — had a chance, but Phoenix wisely fouled.
While Thomas sank both attempts with 7.7 seconds to play, venerable Suns veteran Chris Paul responded by hitting both of his free throws to push the lead to three. Thomas got fouled with 4 seconds remaining, sank the first and intentionally missed the second — he finished 18-for-20 from the stripe — but the Nets couldn’t get the rebound they needed.
Deandre Ayton iced it on the other end. The center finished with 33 points and 14 boards to lead the Suns, who have won nine of 11. He shot 14 of 18 and had his way.
The Nets trailed by double figures after Paul (a game-high 12 assists) found Mikal Bridges for a runner and 65-55 lead.
The Nets answered, reeling off 12 unanswered points. Joe Harris’ 3-pointer put them ahead 67-65 midway through the third quarter.
But it was short-lived. The Nets allowed an 11-4 run, capped when Paul found Ayton for a dunk and 76-71 edge with 3:35 left in the period.
Brooklyn was still hanging around down just 84-81 when it conceded a 12-2 run that spanned the quarters, and left the Nets down 96-83 on a cutting Cam Johnson layup with 9:27 to play.
The Nets kept coming, and ran off 10 unanswered to crawl back into it. Warren’s free throws pulled them within three with 6:29 in regulation, and they got within a point in the waning seconds — but never over the hump.