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Amid bad stretch by Nets, center Nic Claxton shows he can play

Nicolas Claxton of the Nets fouls Ben Simmons

Nicolas Claxton of the Nets fouls Ben Simmons of the 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center on Monday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Nets suffered their fourth straight loss and 11th in the past 13 games when they blew a 12-point second-quarter lead in a 117-111 loss to the 76ers Monday afternoon at Barclays Center. But rookie backup center Nic Claxton put together his second straight impressive performance in place of injured veteran DeAndre Jordan.

Coming off a 14-point game in a loss to the Bucks on Saturday, Claxton scored a career-high 15 points and shot 6-for-8, including his first NBA three-pointer.

“I won’t say how good I think he’s going to be, but he’s got big-time talent, big-time hunger, wants to be great,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of the lithe 6-11 Claxton. “He’s got something else in there. His athleticism, he can hang with a team like that. He’s definitely got to get stronger, but he can shoot the three. That bodes well for us.”

Veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie earlier this season touted Claxton as the second-best athlete on the Nets behind injured superstar Kevin Durant, and he doubled down after what he saw against the Sixers.

“That’s kind of what I was talking about — the stuff we saw in training camp, he’s extremely talented,” Dinwiddie said. “He has a very bright future and has a chance to do some special things.”

Claxton took a hard fall after a mid-air collision with 76ers star Ben Simmons. He landed hard on his right shoulder but said he was fine.

Discussing the past two games, Claxton said, “It felt good, a good confidence boost knowing I can go out there and produce for my team. Going out there and producing is just showing everybody and showing myself that I can play at the highest level.”

Asked about the three he hit to give the Nets their biggest lead at 44-32, and the bench celebration it sparked, Claxton said, “It was the first three I ever hit, so everybody was excited and my adrenaline just took over.”

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