Washington Wizards starting center Thomas Bryant partially tore the ACL in his left knee Saturday night, the team announced Sunday, and he is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Bryant fell under the basket less than two minutes into an eventual 128-124 loss to the Miami Heat at Capital One Arena. He writhed on the floor in pain and smacked the court with one hand before walking to the locker room with a Wizards staffer supporting him on either side.
The 23-year-old’s injury came as he was hitting his stride in his fourth NBA season. He set career highs with 14.3 points and 27.1 minutes per game, 64.8% shooting from the field and 42.9% shooting from three-point range. His 6.1 rebounds per game rank him second on the team behind guard Russell Westbrook.
“TB’s a huge part of what we do on both ends of the floor, and he’s been playing big for us,” backup center Robin Lopez said in a videoconference after Saturday’s game. “. . . We love having him on the floor. I love playing with him.”
Lopez, a 13th-year veteran, probably will fill Bryant’s starting position, with third-string center Moritz Wagner backing him up. Lopez and Wagner acquitted themselves well against Miami after Bryant went down, each scoring 13 points. Lopez had one rebound, and Wagner grabbed seven going up against Heat center.
Lopez is averaging 6 points and 3.5 rebounds in 15.2 minutes off the bench this season. Wagner is averaging 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11.5 minutes across four games.