The craziest storyline about the Washington Wizards 149-146 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday evening wasn’t the triple overtime extravaganza.
It wasn’t Bradley Beal recording his first career triple-double, 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, in 54 minutes of play. Nor it was Suns’ forward Kelly Oubre Jr. nearly beating his former team just days after getting traded.
It was Wizards’ center Thomas Bryant, who had one of the rarest performances by any player in the league this season.
Bryant finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, while shooting a perfect 14-14 from the floor and 3-3 from the free throw line. The only player who has made more shots without missing in league history is Wilt Chamberlain.
“I had no idea throughout game, and I had no idea after the game until people start telling me about it,” Bryant said postgame. “I was just in the flow of the game and tried to let the game come to me. I felt like I was in the rhythm and I went out and took it.”
This game is a major stepping stone for Bryant, who is in his second season in the NBA. Bryant barely played any minutes in 15 games with the Los Angeles Lakers last year. Since Bryant has been apart of the Wizards, he has been logging in important minutes due Dwight Howard’s injury, which may keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
“I don’t know if he played any minutes last year in the NBA,” Brooks said of Bryant. “Now, he starts and plays important minutes.
Bryant went toe-toe with Suns’ rookie DeAndre Ayton, who registered with 26 points and 17 rebounds before fouling out. Ayton was dominating the glass in the first half, as Bryant was only able to collect one rebound. Bryant picked up his intensity around the glass in the second half, registering nine rebounds.
“Thomas battled and fought with [Ayton],” Brooks said. “Thomas is really improving. One thing he does well is that he finishes around the rim. He going to have to work on the rebounding, but I thought he did a better job in the second half and overtime.”
Bryant’s energy level throughout the game especially in overtime was unmatched. Bryant was sprinting down the court to get back on defense and had a putback layup in double overtime to keep the game alive.
“[Bryant] is my boy,” Beal said. “He plays his tail off every minute. Energy, finishing at the rim, blocking, contesting shots [and] being up on the pick-and-roll. He did everything we needed him to do.”
Beal eyes grew big during postgame when he saw the stat sheet and noticed Bryant didn’t miss a shot.
“I’m proud of my boy,” Beal said joyously. “That’s big time.”