Daniel Gafford to steal attention as Thunder host Mavericks - Sport News

Daniel Gafford to steal attention as Thunder host Mavericks

In any showdown between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic and the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander figure to be at the center of both attention and action.

Mavs Big Man Daniel Gafford Sets Unlikely NBA Record After Stellar Run |  Sports World News

That could be the case Thursday night when the Mavericks and Thunder meet in Oklahoma City.

But all eyes will be on Mavericks 6-foot-10 forward/center Daniel Gafford, who has a chance to make history.

After going 5-for-5 from the floor in Wednesday’s win over Golden State, Gafford has made 33 consecutive shots.

Gafford is two shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s 57-year-old NBA record of 35 consecutive makes. Chamberlain accomplished his feat in a four-game span in February 1967.

Gafford has been perfect from the floor in five consecutive games after missing his only shot in the Mavericks’ loss to Philadelphia on March 3.

“I try to tell myself not to just worry about it,” Gafford said. “If I do it, that’s good, I’m gonna celebrate it of course, but at the end of the day I just want to come out and win games.”

Gafford has started the past four games, all Mavericks wins.

During the five games of his perfect streak, Gafford is averaging 15 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.

Doncic (34.3 points per game) and Gilgeous-Alexander (31.1) lead the NBA in scoring.

But Doncic’s status is up in the air after he left Wednesday’s 109-99 home win over Golden State in the fourth quarter after experiencing left hamstring soreness shortly after an alley-oop feed to Gafford.

Doncic left for the locker room shortly after the play and did not return, and his streak of consecutive triple-doubles ended at seven.

“We’ll have a better answer tomorrow,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said after Wednesday’s win of Doncic’s status for Thursday’s game.

Gilgeous-Alexander is coming off another 30-point game in Tuesday’s 121-111 loss to Indiana. But it was a rare off night for Gilgeous-Alexander, who was just 12 of 27 from the floor and 1 of 7 from beyond the arc.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s 3-point attempts have risen lately, with three consecutive games with seven tries from outside the arc.

Prior to that, Gilgeous-Alexander had attempted seven or more 3-pointers in just three of his first 61 games this season.

Thunder forward Gordon Hayward, acquired at the NBA trade deadline, is just getting acclimated to playing alongside Gilgeous-Alexander.

“I don’t think I’ve played with someone who averaged 30,” Hayward said. “It’s something you can’t take for granted. It’s rare. He’s making it not rare. It’s quite unbelievable he’s able to do it — I don’t want to say easy, but it doesn’t feel forced.”

After starting Tuesday’s game, Hayward figures to be heading back to a reserve role.

Jalen Williams is off the injury report and ready to return after suffering a right ankle sprain in the first half of Sunday’s win over Memphis and missing Tuesday’s loss.

Thursday’s game will the third of four meetings this season between Dallas and Oklahoma City. They’ve split their previous two meetings, both in Dallas.

The Mavericks won the most recent meeting 146-111 on Feb. 10, following their 126-120 loss on Dec. 2.

The teams will conclude the regular season on April 14 in Oklahoma City.

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