CHICAGO -- Daniel Gafford stood under the basket, clutching his right hand as he bent over in pain. Not even 90 seconds had passed since the start of Wednesday night's game against the Wizards when Gafford intercepted a pass from Ian Mahinmi that nearly bent the rookie's hand all the way backward. He called timeout and immediately sprinted off the court toward the locker room.
Gafford, who has been starting at center in place of Wendell Carter Jr., was diagnosed with a dislocated right thumb with a cut and is expected to be sidelined for two to four weeks, the team announced. It deals another blow to the Bulls frontcourt depth, already thin with Carter out for at least a month with a right ankle sprain.
The Bulls withstood Gafford's absence and came away with a 115-106 victory, led by 30 points from Zach LaVine, who has scored at least 25 in five straight games. It was the 13th game this season LaVine has scored at least 30 points.
Gafford had been exceeding expectations as a second-round draft pick from Arkansas. He started his fourth straight game Wednesday since Carter's injury and was averaging 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds since moving into the lineup. He's averaging 1.4 blocked shots in 31 games for the season.
Without Gafford and Carter, Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio are the only big men on the Bulls' roster besides Lauri Markkanen (13 points, eight rebounds), and they made up for most of the minutes in this game without Gafford. The Bulls have 15 players on their roster, which limits their options to add a player in Gafford's absence.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 23 points.
(c)2020 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.