Comeback win proves Nets' mentality as Vaughn confirms Irving call
Jacque Vaughn believes the Brooklyn Nets proved what they want to be by fighting back to defeat the Washington Wizards on Saturday.
Cam Thomas scored 44 points from the bench as the Nets overturned a 23-point deficit at Barclays Center.
The Nets were without star players Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving, the latter missing with a calf issue having this week requested a trade.
Irving was not in attendance, with Vaughn saying "we were all in agreement on him not being here", as the Nets coach hailed his team's mental fortitude.
"We stacked the deck, I think, at mentally challenging them tonight," he told reporters.
"We didn't get off to the start that we wanted to, but we responded. We talked about it at half-time that it was more than the physical piece of this game that we were missing, it was the mental piece of this game.
"Definitely a shift in our mentality. And we got rewarded for it.
"It's proof, it's evidence of who we want to be as a team. We talked about what day of the week, what state we're in, how many guys are available.
"It just doesn't matter. You have the ability and the choice to lock in and play and the group that we had did that."
Thomas' points haul was a career-best tally for the 21-year-old, who has played 35 times this season but is yet to make a start.
Edmond Sumner added 29 points but used his post-match press conference to laud his team-mate's match-winning efforts.
"I'm watching him score after score. Cam's a guy that once he gets that type of rhythm, you've just got to let him go," Sumner said.
"He can run off 10, 15, 20 straight. In the fourth quarter, he really picked it up and got it. Get it going, Cam. Go to work my guy. I love it."
Saturday's game marked an 11th start of the season for Sumner, who can empathise with Thomas when it comes to a lack of opportunities.
Sumner added: "People don't see what we really go through every day.
"It's hard not playing games when you're busting your butt every day – it's hard. For you to always stay mentally happy, it's tough.
"I know how hard he works, how talented he is. We stay ready every day, we compete against each other almost every day, so that was huge.
"I love that everybody on this team was happy for him and then we let him go to work."