Thomas Bryant’s career high was 16 points. He scored 16 alone in one scorching stretch over the first and second overtimes Saturday night on his way to a historic perfect shooting performance.
Bryant scored 31 points on 14-for-14 shooting to help the Washington Wizards outlast the Phoenix Suns 149-146 in three overtimes. It was the seventh game in NBA history in which a player made at least 14 field goals without a miss, according to basketball-reference.com, and the first since Gary Payton did it nearly 24 years ago.
Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the feat four times in the late 1960s and is the only player in league history to make at least 15 field goals in a perfect shooting game. Chamberlain did that three times, including a record 18-for-18 game on Feb. 24, 1967.
“It’s amazing,” said Bryant. “I had no idea. I was just in the flow of the game. I just let the game come to me, and as soon as I felt like I was in the rhythm of it, I just went out and took it.”
Interestingly, Bryant merely tied the franchise record for most field goals without a miss. Bailey Howell went 14-for-14 from the field for the Baltimore Bullets on Jan. 3, 1965.
Bryant was 3-of-3 from the foul line and added a career-high 13 rebounds in his most extensive playing time since he entered the starting lineup a month ago. Saturday was Bryant’s 17th consecutive start since Dwight Howard was sidelined by back surgery.
Bradley Beal notched his first career triple-double for the Wizards, finishing with 40 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds as Washington won for just the second time in eight games. Despite his own monster stat line, Beal called Bryant the Wizards’ MVP.
“He was the MVP of the game,” Beal said of Bryant during an interview on NBATV. “Everybody wants to talk about my triple-double. … TB was by far the MVP tonight. He played his role, he played extremely hard. Roll to the basket, finish at the rim, got rebounds when we needed them.”
Bryant had 13 points in regulation, then caught fire late in the first overtime. He scored 16 of 18 points for the Wizards over the first and second extra periods as the teams traded the lead back and forth down the stretch.
“He was everything we needed him to be tonight, and we need him to continue to do that if we want to continue to win,” said Beal.
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