LITTLE ROCK — Week two of the ’20-21 NBA season provided a former Hog big man battle as Little Rock native and Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis and El Dorado native and Chicago Bulls forward Daniel Gafford met up in Milwaukee on New Year’s Day.
Portis had his second double-double of ’20-21 — 13 points (4-of-6 field goals, including 2-of-2 from 3, and 3-of-4 free throws), a season-high-matching 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 assist in 25 minutes off the bench — to help the Bucks to a 126-96 win, while Gafford recorded 5 points (2-of-2 field goals and 1-of-2 free throws), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and 1 assist in 16 minutes off the bench for the Bulls.
Despite that outcome, Gafford was instrumental in Chicago winning 3 of its 4 games last week after an 0-3 start to the season as he averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals while shooting 12-of-14 from the field (85.7%) and 11-of-14 from the free throw line (78.6%) off the bench in that stretch, and thus Gafford has earned the distinction as the Pro Hoop Hogs Player of the Week.
Gafford’s best game was a 15-point (7-of-8 field goals and 1-of-2 free throws), 5-rebound, 2-assist, 2-steal, 1-block performance in 22 minutes in Chicago’s 133-130 road win against the Washington Wizards on Dec. 31. The 15 points are the second most he’s scored in an NBA game. On Sunday, Gafford had 12 points (3-of-3 field goals and 6-of-6 free throws), 3 rebounds, and 1 steal in 19 minutes off the bench in Chicago’s 118-108 home win against the Dallas Mavericks.
Gafford (6-11) has played in 6 of 7 games for the Bulls (3-4), averaging 7.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game while shooting 15-of-21 from the field (71.4%) and 13-of-20 from the free throw line (65.0%).
* Portis, in addition to the aforementioned double-double in the win over Chicago, had games of a) 11 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal; and b) 11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal as the Bucks split two games on the road against the Miami Heat on back-to-back nights last week. Portis made one triple in the Bucks’ 144-97 win over the Heat on Tuesday as Milwaukee set the NBA record for made 3’s in a single game (29-of-51 for 56.9%). Portis, the previous recipient of the Pro Hoop Hogs Player of the Week honor, has played in all 6 games for the Bucks (3-3), averaging 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 23.0 minutes per contest while shooting 52.1% from the field, including 41.7% from 3, and 83.3% from the free throw line. Portis has scored in double figures in each of the last 5 games with a season high of 17 points.
* Former Arkansas star Patrick Beverley (6-1 guard) helped the Los Angeles Clippers to a 3-1 record last week as he continues in a starting role. In a 124-101 win Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Beverley scored his season-high 12 points (4-of-7 field goals and 4-of-5 free throws) to go with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 22 minutes. He’s averaging 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 23.4 minutes as a starter while shooting 45.0% from the field, including 48.0% from 3, and 83.3% from the free throw line for the Clippers (5-2).
* Former Arkansas star Isaiah Joe (6-5 shooting guard and Fort Smith native) found the floor for the second time in his young career last week, playing 7 minutes and collecting 2 rebounds while going 0-of-1 shooting on a three-point attempt in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 116-92 win over the Orlando Magic on Thursday. In his 2 games played, Joe has totaled 14 minutes, 2 points (1-of-3 from the field, including 0-of-2 from 3), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal for the Sixers (5-1).
* Former Arkansas star Mason Jones (6-5 combo guard) has yet to play for the Houston Rockets (2-2) as he has been inactive due to both Covid-19 protocols and an ankle injury. Jones signed an undrafted free agent two-way contract with the Rockets, and he’s expected to be active for a good portion of the Rockets’ games this season (he can be active for up to 50 of the team’s 72 regular-season games).