LITTLE ROCK — Former Arkanas star Daniel Gafford has been a key piece to the Washington Wizards since being acquired by the team in a trade with Chicago in late March, and last week he recorded his second career NBA double-double followed by a gritty 4th quarter / overtime performance in Washington’s 133-132 road win against the Indiana Pacers. Gafford efforts have earned him Pro Hoop Hogs Player of the Week honors, marking the sixth time this season that he’s received the recognition.
Gafford (6-10 center, native of El Dorado) started the week with 15 points (7-of-7 field goals and 1-of-2 free throws), 3 blocks, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal in 15 minutes in a 154-141 home win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday. Two days later against the Milwaukee Bucks, Gafford recorded a double-double as he finished with 12 points (4-of-6 field goals and 4-of-7 free throws), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 14 minutes in the Wizards’ 135-134 road loss.
Gafford finished the week coming up with some big plays down the stretch of the Wizards’ OT win Saturday at Indiana, which put his team a half-game ahead of the Pacers for the 9th-seed in the Eastern Conference playoff / play-in game scenario. After being fouled with 48 seconds remaining in regulation, Gafford made both free throws to tie the game at 122-all. In overtime, Gafford won the opening tip for the Wizards and collected two rebounds, the second of which was an offensive rebound with 8.3 seconds left in the extra period when the Wizards trailed the Pacers, 132-131. Gafford went to the floor with the rebound and the Wizards were able to call a timeout. Once play resumed, all pro guard Russell Westbrook was fouled with 0:01 remaining while shooting from the right wing, he made both free throws to give Washington the one-point win.
It was a high-profile game not only because of the playoff implications, but because Westbrook’s 33-point, 19-rebound, 15-assist performance brought him into a tie with legendary Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson for the most career triple-doubles in NBA history at 181. Plus, Wizards’ shooting guard Bradley Beal — in a two-man race with Golden State’s Steph Curry for the NBA scoring title — finished with 50 points.
In his 19 games with Washington since being traded from Chicago, the Wizards have gone 15-4 to improve to 32-36 on the season while Gafford has averaged 10.2 points (69.3% shooting from the field), 5.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 17.8 minutes per game with the team. Gafford — both of his career NBA double-doubles were recorded as a Wizard — has a Player Efficiency Rating of 22.17 that ranks 22nd in the NBA. His per-36-minute numbers with the team are 20.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks. Combining his numbers at Chicago, Gafford has played in 50 games in ’20-21 and is averaging 6.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 14.4 minutes per game while shooting 69.2% from the field and 63.3% from the free throw line. He has scored in double figures 14 times (10 with the Wizards) and rebounded in double figures three times (twice with the Wizards).
Linked below are a couple of highlights of Gafford plays from last week’s games …
* Former Arkansas star Bobby Portis (6-10 forward / center) helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 3-0 record last week while averaging 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in wins over Brooklyn, Washington, and Houston. His best game was 16 points (7-of-14 field goals, including 1-of-2 from 3, and 1-of-2 free throws), 8 rebounds, and 1 assist in 15 minutes in the Bucks’ 141-133 victory over the Rockets on Friday. Portis is ranked 43rd in the NBA with a Player Efficiency Rating of 19.66. He’s played in 62 games (with 7 starts) and is the Bucks’ fifth leading scorer and second leading rebounder, averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds (ranks 33rd in the NBA), and 1.1 assists in 21.0 minutes per contest while shooting 52.3% from the field, including 47.0% from 3 (ranks 3rd in the NBA), and 73.4% from the free throw line. His per-36-minute numbers are 19.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals. Portis has 11 double-doubles in ’20-21, he’s scored in double figures in 38 games (including seven games of 20 or more points), and he’s rebounded in double figures in 12 games. Milwaukee is 43-24 for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, which is 3.5 games back of first-place Philadelphia and 0.5 games back of second-place Brooklyn. The Bucks hold the head-to-head tiebreakers against both teams should there be a tie in the final regular season standings.
Linked below are a couple of highlights of Portis buckets from last week’s games …
* Former Arkansas star Isaiah Joe (6-4 shooting guard, Fort Smith native) played twice last week, combining for 2-of-4 shooting from 3 for 6 points to go with 1 rebound in a collective 14 minutes in the Philadelphia 76ers’ wins against Houston (135-115) and Detroit (118-104). Joe has a Player Efficiency Rating of 8.02. His heaviest game action and best production came in January when in a consecutive 5-game stretch he started once and scored in double figures four times (including a career-high 18 points against Atlanta) while averaging 12.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 29.0 minutes per game as he shot 40.8% from the field, including 17-of-39 from 3 for 43.6%, and made 5-of-5 free throws. During the NBA all star break in March, Joe excelled in the three-game G-League playoffs in Orlando, Fla., as he averaged 23.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 43.8% field goal shooting (including 39.3% from 3), and 87.5% free throw shooting while leading the Delaware Blue Coats to the G-League title game. On the season in the NBA, Joe has played in 37 games for Philadelphia (47-21 for the best record in the Eastern Conference) and is averaging 3.2 points in 8.8 minutes per game while shooting 33.6% from the field, including 34.5% from 3, and 72.2%% from the free throw line. His per-36-minute numbers are 12.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 steal. Joe has won the PHH POW honor three times in ’20-21.
Linked below are highlights of Joe from last week’s game against the Rockets …
* Former Arkansas star Mason Jones (6-4 combo guard) was released from his two-way contract by the Philadelphia 76ers last week, marking the second time in his rookie season that he has been waived as the Houston Rockets — the team that originally signed Jones to an undrafted free agent two-way contract — did the same before the Sixers signed him. Jones has played in a total of 32 games (26 with Houston and 6 with Philadelphia) in ’20-21, averaging 5.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 10.4 minutes per game while shooting 42.3% from the field, including 36.4% from 3, and 62.5% from the free throw line. Jones’ per-36-minute numbers are 18.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. Jones has scored in double figures five times, including a career-high 24 points against San Antonio in January when he played for the Rockets. Jones has won the PHH POW honor once this season. Jones signed his UFA two-way contract with Houston in November just after the NBA Draft, then the Rockets waived him in March before signing him to one 10-day contract followed by the Sixers signing him to a two-way deal.
* Former Arkansas star Patrick Beverley (6-1 guard) returned to the Los Angeles Clippers lineup last week after playing only twice in the previous five weeks due to a couple of injuries — a hand that required surgery and knee soreness prior to injuring his hand. Previously a full-time starter, Beverley played off the bench in three games last week in his return as the Clippers went 2-1, including a 105-100 home win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday during which Beverley contributed 8 points (3-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3), 3 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal in 15 minutes. A two-time winner of the PHH POW honor, Beverley has played in 34 games while having missed 34 games for the Clippers (45-23 for the third-best record in the Western Conference). The three-time NBA All Defensive team honoree has a Player Efficiency Rating of 12.27. Beverley has season highs of 20 points (against San Antonio), 9 rebounds (against Phoenix), 8 assists (against San Antonio), 3 steals (against Oklahoma City), and 3 blocks (against Chicago). He’s averaging 7.8 points. 3.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 22.8 minutes per game while shooting 42.6% from the field, including 42.1% from 3, and 81.4% from the free throw line. Beverley’s per-36-minute numbers are 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks.