El Dorado’s Daniel Gafford scored 20 points with 10 rebounds to lead Chicago past Charlotte 75-72 in NBA Summer League action on Wednesday. The Bulls improved to 2-2.
Gafford led Chicago’s fourth-quarter comeback. In addition to hitting two free throws with 3.3 seconds left, the 6-10 former Arkansas Razorback blocked a dunk attempt and had a steal in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We had to come out and we had to play physical basketball because they somewhat punked us in the first half,” Gafford told a reporter after the game. “We had to come out and we had to play like we wanted to. Let everything come to us instead of us trying to go take the game.”
Gafford, who was 0-for-4 at the line in his previous contest, hit 8-of-10 free throws on Wednesday and was perfect down the stretch.
“You just got to stay calm, stay calm, cool and collected,” he said. “At the end of the day, if you make ‘em, you make ‘em. If you miss ‘em, you miss ‘em. You still have to play defense right after so it really don’t matter. You can play defense right after if you miss, get it back and go score. Or, you can just make ‘em and get the game over with. My mind was just getting the game over with.
“It was an intense game. I wanted us to win real bad because we haven’t had that good of a week so we had to come out and play like we had to play.”
Gafford, who was the 38th pick of the draft, this week inked a four-year deal worth $6.1 million. The first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Bulls head coach Jim Boylen explained why Chicago selected Gafford in the second round and what he brings to the team.
“The game has changed a lot. You have to guard more of the floor. He’s part of that,” Boylen said. “He gives us vertical spacing. He can play at a different plane than some of the guys in the league. We need that in our offense. We haven’t really had that lob guy, that guy that can just go up and get it. He’s one of those types of players. Plus, he’s unselfish.
“His greatest gift is he knows who he is and he likes who he is. He’s not trying to be somebody else. That doesn’t mean we don’t want him to grow. But, know who you are now and help us win with that and we’ll work on the other things. He’s got great sense of that.”