For the ninth time in their first 16 games, the Brooklyn Nets were without starting center Nic Claxton when they took on the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. Claxton was a late scratch ahead of the Nets 118-109 win over the Bulls due to a sprain of the same ankle that sidelined him for eight games earlier this year.

The 24-year-old tweaked the ankle in the first quarter of the Nets' win over the Miami Heat on Saturday.

As he did in Brooklyn's season opener, Claxton left for the locker room and eventually returned to finish the game, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds, and three blocks on 5-of-7 shooting. Claxton was listed as probable on Brooklyn's initial injury report before being downgraded to questionable and then out shortly before tipoff.

“You saw in the game the other day. He kind of tweaked that ankle again, it's the same one,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said pregame. “I think he might be listed as probable. He'll do his warm up and hopefully he's ready to go. He did participate in our shootaround earlier.”

When healthy, Claxton has continued to look like one of the NBA's most dominant defenders this season, as he's recorded three or more blocks in five of his seven games, and his average of 2.7 blocks per game ranks third in the NBA. Offensively, he's continued his elite efficiency while flashing a growing repertoire, shooting 66.7 percent from the field, which is the league's seventh-best mark (minimum 50 shot attempts).

Cam Johnson was also forced out of Sunday's win due to cramping in his right leg, which also sidelined him late in Wednesday's overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The 28-year-old missed eight games earlier this year due to a calf strain in his left leg. He also missed the entire preseason after straining his left hamstring days before the start of training camp.

After a cold shooting start upon returning, Johnson has shot 58.8 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from three over his last three appearances.

In other injury news, the Nets announced Wednesday that Cam Thomas has made significant improvement with his ankle injury and is expected to rejoin team activities in the coming week. Vaughn said Brooklyn hopes to have the shooting guard run through simulated scrimmages this week.

“He didn’t participate in shootaround. Monday's an off day, so that kind of puts him in a tough position for us to schedule an actual practice for him,” the coach said. “So hopefully we'll get to a point where we can simulate some things with some video guys and also with some G league guys maybe in this week coming up.”

The 23-year-old ranked ninth in scoring before his injury, averaging 28.7 points per game. Thomas has missed Brooklyn's last eight games after suffering an ankle sprain during a November 8th win over the Los Angeles Clippers.