Washington Wizards’ center Daniel Gafford went down with a lower-body injury with less than five minutes remaining in what became a 132-112 loss for his squad to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. gave some clarity on the injury postgame.
“Right ankle sprain,” Unseld Jr. said. “He’ll be reevaluated in the morning. I’m not sure the severity as of yet.”
The play in question occurred when Pelicans big man Jonas Valanciunas drove into the lane with his team up by 19 in the fourth quarter. Gafford contested Valanciunas’ layup attempt but landed awkwardly, audibly noting the discomfort he felt immediately.
Upon replay, it looked as though Gafford rolled his ankle as he landed on Kristaps Porzingis’ foot. Gafford was able to stand up and walk to the locker room on his own power.
Washington will hope the severity of the 24-year-old’s injury is mild, considering the contributions Gafford has made over the last few weeks. He put up 13 points and four rebounds off 83% shooting vs. New Orleans prior to his ankle injury, continuing a stretch of arguably the best basketball he’s played all season for the Wizards.
Gafford has now posted double figures in scoring in six-straight games and in nine of his last 11 appearances for Washington. Unseld’s ‘big man lineup,’ which includes a starting five of Gafford, Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma along with guards, worked wonders for the Wizards prior to their current three-game losing streak.
Including Monday’s loss to New Orleans, Gafford has now gone 18 straight games shooting over 50% from the field, boosting his field goal percentage to a league-best 74.7% (among players with four or more attempts per game). With Gafford out, Washington will likely turn to Taj Gibson to provide frontcourt relief to Porzingis.