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Thomas, Knight enjoy their homecoming game

Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tim Thomas and Brevin Knight sat side by side, both fiddling with a fistful of tickets.

“I’m trying to stop picking up my phone,” Thomas said.

“Got to cut it off at some point,” Knight said.

Thomas and Knight returned here to play in their home state as teammates on Tuesday for the first time, attached with it all the hassles and the wheeling and dealing of obtaining tickets for family and friends.

It was another sign the Jersey boys had made it, something the NBA recognized long ago.

Although separated by three school years, both Knight and Thomas heard about the prowess of the other while in high school.

“Tim was big,” said Knight, who attended Seton Hall Prep in East Orange, N.J. “I’m just a regular guy that got his recognition in state. I had to work hard to get here and I’ll work hard to stay as long as I can and then move on to something else.”

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But Knight did have his own following, according to Thomas.

“First thing I heard was how he would lock guys up on defense and how fast he was,” said Thomas, who is from Paterson, N.J. “Once he got to college, it really showed how well he could run a team.”

Although Knight is three years older, he and Thomas entered the NBA during the 1997-98 season with Knight’s career at Stanford ending and Thomas declaring his eligibility after his freshman year at Villanova.

The route the two took to become teammates was a meandering one, with both playing for a number of NBA franchises. On Tuesday, it led to them stepping on the Izod Center floor, as starters and teammates, in their home state.

The first play of the game?

Knight to Thomas for a layup.

When asked if the Jersey brashness from the pair had rubbed off on the rest of the team, Coach Mike Dunleavy jokingly responded that instead, Thomas and Knight had become “gentrified.”

“Any time you can come home and look up in the stands and see familiar faces, it’s always a nice feeling,” Thomas said before returning to counting tickets.

Both said they gave away about 25 -- by borrowing leftovers from teammates.

“After I talk to my wife -- hopefully that will be the last call,” Thomas said.

Quinton Ross bruised his lower back while going for a rebound in the third quarter and did not return. He is questionable for tonight’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

TODAY

at Charlotte, 4 PST

Site -- Charlotte Bobcats Arena.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 8-12, Bobcats 7-12.

Record vs. Bobcats (2006-07) -- 2-0.

Update -- The Clippers have beaten the Bobcats in each of the franchises’ six matchups. Charlotte has lost eight of its last 10 games. Gerald Wallace averages a team-high 17.9 points.

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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