A buzzer-beating three-point from Gabe Haskins made sure the Cheshire Phoenix head into next Friday's BBL Trophy semi final second leg with a chance of going through – but there is a lot of work to do.
Neither side really took hold of the first leg at the Northgate Arena, with both teams wasteful with their shots and executing spells of very tough defence.
But, as with the Phoenix's Friday night loss at Manchester Giants, they paid for too much poor three-point shooting while their opponents chose to create more high-percentage shots close to the basket.
The Phoenix were still missing Jerome Gumbs, who is reportedly still very unwell, but there were flashes that showed the Nix may have learned their lesson from the Giants game.
Thomson followed in well for a putback dunk in the first quarter and Alif Bland was very aggressive at the hoop, throwing down a number of crowdpleasing dunks.
But while the Sharks used Mike Tuck, Olu Babalola and Demetrius Jemison to take the ball to the rack, the Phoenix reverted to attempting long-range shots which began to really hurt them.
Some of those points were successful but most were not and a third quarter where the Phoenix only scored 10 points only made it worse.
Not even a rash moment of lost temper at the officials by Andrew Bridge which gifted the Phoenix a technical foul and two free throws was enough to turn the tide in the final quarter as the Nix began looking to take a manageable deficit to Sheffield next weekend.
It was looking like the Nix would have to overturn a 17-point gap in the second leg until, in the dying seconds, Haskins heaved a hopeful effort from just inside the halfway line which dropped to make it 14 points.
Nix coach Matt Lloyd was still unhappy with the performance but believes his side are capable of going through.
“It's a winnable second leg still at 14 points down. It's obviously hard going into that game without those 14 points but it's still winnable.
“Their points were spread evenly across four guys. Compared to what they are able to score in other games I think we did a good job there but I think we have still got to do a better job defensively, but we'll be alright.
“Our execution let us down in terms of shot selection but sometimes the shots fall and sometimes they don't.”
Fans are being encouraged to travel where possible and support the Nix on the road for the second leg in Sheffield on Friday night and Lloyd admitted a decent away following could prove beneficial.
“Fans on an away trip is always a good asset to have. It can gee up the guys and reinforce their efforts.”
Lloyd is also unsure at this stage if Gumbs will recover enough to play a part in the second leg.
“He is ill. It is still inconclusive in terms of what we're dealing with in terms of his illness. He's been speaking to the doctors and they have been helping him but it's a case of time.
“It's not like an injury where you can treat it and rush back in some cases. With an illness it's internal and it kills you mentally and physically. It has drained him and he's struggling.
“But we have five days where he can rest and carry on with his course of tablets and we can get medical advice but he's 14 points on his own and what he brings to the team as well has been shown against Newcastle and Leicester and Worthing.
“He brings balance to the floor and to the rotation and it would be good to have him back.”