A 6-7 guard, Craig Ehlo was a mainstay in the Cleveland Cavaliers' backcourt for many years, contributing both as a starter and a sixth man. A reliable outside shooter with a good three-point shot, he followed Coach Lenny Wilkens from Cleveland to Atlanta, signing as a free agent with the Hawks in 1993. After three seasons in Atlanta he moved on to Seattle in the summer of 1996 as a veteran free agent, making significant contributions in the first half of the 1996-97 seasons but then seeing limited playing time after midseason. A native of Lubbock, Texas, Ehlo spent two years at Odessa Junior College and then finished his college career at Washington State. He was a third-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets in 1983 but suffered torn ligaments in training camp and played in only seven games as a rookie. He saw little playing time for the Rockets during the next two seasons and was released before the start of the 1986-87 campaign. Ehlo spent part of the 1986-87 season with the CBA's Mississippi Coast Jets before signing with the Cavaliers in January. Playing in the backcourt behind Mark Price and Ron Harper, Ehlo averaged 7.1 and 7.4 points in 20 minutes per game over the following two seasons. In the opening weeks of the 1989-90 campaign the Cavs sent Harper to the Los Angeles Clippers, and for the next four seasons Ehlo averaged double figures in scoring and more than 30 minutes per game. In 1989-90 he set career highs for points (13.6 ppg), rebounds (5.4 rpg) and assists (4.6 apg) and shot a career-best .419 from three-point range. In 1991-92 he suffered torn ligaments in his left knee. The injury ended a streak of 206 consecutive games played and sidelined him for 19 contests. During Ehlo's tenure in Cleveland, the Cavs were one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, pushing as far as the conference finals in 1992. Wilkens brought Ehlo with him when he took over the coaching duties with the Atlanta Hawks in 1993. Ehlo averaged 10.0 points for the Hawks in 1993-94 and finished third in the voting for the NBA Sixth Man Award. He was hampered by knee injuries in 1994-95, and his scoring average slipped below 10.0 points per outing for the first time since 1988-89. After averaging 8.5 ppg for Atlanta in 1996-96, he signed with Seattle as a free agent prior to the 1996-97 season. He was a significant part of the Sonics' playing rotation in the first half of the season, but his playing time dropped dramatically after Jan. 1 and he was not included on Seattle's playoff roster.
Ehlo played in 62 games for the Sonics, all as a reserve, and averaged 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 13.7 minutes per game, his lowest figures since 1985-86. He missed five games due to an assortment of injuries and was a DNP-CD 15 times. His playing time tailed off dramatically after the first two months of the season. He played double-figure minutes 29 times in November and December, but only 12 times after Jan. 1. Ehlo scored in double figured six times, tallying a season-high 14 points in a 111-86 triumph over Golden State on Jan. 29. He grabbed a season-high seven rebounds in an 87-75 victory at San Antonio on Nov. 8. He missed the final three games of the regular season due to joint pain in his right knee, and he was not included on Seattle's playoff roster.
Ehlo played in 79 games for the Hawks, making eight starts, and averaged 8.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.08 steals in 22.3 minutes per game. His 82 three-pointers ranked third on the team, and he shot .371 from behind the arc. He led the team in scoring four times, scoring in double figures 31 times, with a season-high 28 points at indiana on Jan. 30. The Hawks were 19-12 in games in which he scored in double figures. His production dropped off in the playoffs, when Ehlo averaged 4.0 ppg in 19.0 mpg and shot just .293 from the field. After the season, Ehlo signed as a veteran free agent with the Seattle SuperSonics.
Ehlo opened the 1994û95 campaign on the Atlanta HawksÆ injured list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in October. He missed the first 12 games of the season before being reactivated on November 29. He lasted only 10 weeks before another injury forced him back out of action and onto the operating table on February 15 for arthroscopic surgery once again, this time on his left knee. He was sidelined until March 23. When healthy, Ehlo appeared in 49 games, his fewest since the 1986û87 season. He averaged 9.7 points in 23.8 minutes per game and led the team in three-point field-goal percentage at .381. He recorded a season high of 22 points against the Indiana Pacers on January 20. The Hawks reached the playoffs after winning 42 games during the regular season but were then swept by Indiana in the first round. Ehlo struggled against the Pacers, hitting only 2 of 12 shots from the field, including only 1-of-6 from three-point range. He averaged 3.0 points in the postseason.
When Coach Lenny Wilkens was hired by the Atlanta Hawks on June 1 after having spent seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it took barely a month for Ehlo, who had played for Wilkens all seven of those years, to follow suit. Ehlo had been the CavsÆ starting shooting guard for each of the previous four seasons, but when he signed with the Hawks on July 2, he accepted quite a different role. Ehlo came off the bench in all 82 games during his inaugural campaign in Atlanta, spelling starting guards Stacey Augmon and Mookie Blaylock. He averaged 10.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists, shooting .446 from the floor and .348 from three-point range. His all-around contributions helped the Hawks to a 57-25 record and the Central Division title. Among his season highlights, Ehlo scored 21 points in a game twice and recorded a season-high 7 steals against the Orlando Magic on December 29.
Ehlo played in all 82 games for the third time in his career, starting 73 times for a Cleveland team that finished second to the Chicago Bulls in the Central Division. He averaged 11.6 points for the year, shooting a career-high .490 from the field. The 10-year veteran led the Cavs in steals (104) and ranked 21st in the NBA in three-point shooting (93-of-244, .381). He scored a season-high 24 points on three occasions, the last time in an April 16 game against the Orlando Magic. That performance came during EhloÆs finest stretch of the season, when he averaged 15.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.33 steals over ClevelandÆs final six games, shooting .590 from the field and .500 (10-of-20) from three-point range. After notching 54 victories in the regular season, the Cavs harbored hopes of finally unseating the Chicago Bulls in the 1993 NBA Playoffs. Cleveland certainly had its chance, meeting the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but Chicago swept the series in four games en route to its third consecutive NBA Championship. Ehlo averaged 10.9 points in the postseason.
The injury bug hit Ehlo in 1991û92, although his knee injury wasnÆt nearly as damaging as the one suffered by Mark Price a year earlier. Ehlo sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on March 10, missing 19 games and ending his consecutive-games streak at 206. He still managed to average 12.3 points per game in 63 appearances and finish sixth in the NBA in three-point shooting (69-of-167, .413). Ehlo also made his second appearance in the Long Distance Shootout during the NBA All-Star Weekend, finishing sixth. The nine-year veteran started the seasonÆs first 60 games before sustaining the injury. He returned on April 15 to play in the last three games of the regular season and then the playoffs. Cleveland had become the leagueÆs most improved team in 1991û92, increasing its win total by 24 games largely because of PriceÆs return from injury. The Cavs then advanced deep into the 1992 NBA Playoffs, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Chicago Bulls in six games. Ehlo averaged 9.6 points in 17 postseason appearances.
Four seasons earlier Ehlo had been waived by the Houston Rockets, with whom he had seen little action. Now he was the only Cavalier to play in all 82 games, starting in 68 contests overall and the final 61 of the season. Coach Lenny Wilkens asked Ehlo to assume more of the teamÆs playmaking duties after star point guard Mark Price went down with a season-ending knee injury on November 30. Ehlo responded with a career-high 4.6 assists per game. He also led the Cavs in steals (121) while ranking fifth on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg). The eight-year veteran scored a season-high 24 points in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 22. He also notched 7 steals three times during the season, most recently against the Indiana Pacers on February 22. A potent three-point shooter, Ehlo led the Cavs in three-pointers made (49) for the second straight season but fell out of the leagueÆs top 10 with a .329 percentage. Without Price for most of the season, Cleveland struggled to a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.
When Cleveland traded Ron Harper to the Los Angeles Clippers seven games into the 1989û90 season, Coach Lenny Wilkens made Ehlo his starting shooting guard. The seven-year veteran responded with career highs in scoring (13.6 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg), and steals (126). He was a workhorse for the Cavs, appearing in 81 games and leading the team in minutes played with 2,894 for the season. Given a starterÆs minutes, Ehlo developed into one of the NBAÆs best three-point shooters. He nailed 104 of 248 attempts from long range, ranking seventh in the league with a .419 percentage. On the strength of his three-point shooting numbers at midseason, Ehlo participated in the Long Distance Shootout at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Miami and finished fifth. For the third straight season, a talented Cleveland team lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. This time the Cavs fell in five games to the Philadelphia 76ers, despite a playoff career-high 25 points from Ehlo in Game 2.
EhloÆs versatility became his strength in his sixth NBA season. He played in all 82 games for the Cavaliers, seeing action at both guard spots and at small forward. He pushed his scoring average to 7.4 points per game while adding 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest. The 6-foot-7 swingman also began to come into his own as a defensive stopper; he recorded 110 steals for the season despite playing only 22.8 minutes per game. Cleveland surged to a 57-25 record in 1988û89, tying the Los Angeles Lakers for the second-best mark in the league behind the Detroit Pistons (63-19). By all accounts, the Cavs should have moved past the first round of the 1989 NBA Playoffs. Ehlo made a layup with 3 seconds left on the clock to put Cleveland ahead by a point in the fifth and deciding game of the series against the Chicago Bulls. But in one of the more memorable moments in playoff history, Michael Jordan nailed a 16-footer over Ehlo at the buzzer to give the Bulls a stunning series victory.
Ehlo played his first full season as an NBA regular, making major contributions to a Cleveland team headed toward title contention. In 1986 the Cavs had hired Lenny Wilkens as head coach, drafted Brad Daugherty and Ron Harper, and acquired Mark Price from the Dallas Mavericks. During the 1987û88 season the Cavaliers traded for Larry Nance and Mike Sanders. The immediate result was a 42-40 record and a return to the NBA Playoffs. (Cleveland would remain an Eastern Conference power well into the 1990s.) Ehlo played a valuable role coming off the bench at off guard and small forward. He played in 79 games and scored more points this season (563) than he had in his previous four combined (481). He averaged 7.1 points while ranking fourth on the team in steals (82) and fifth in assists (206). On two occasions Ehlo hit 20 points, a regular-season high, then banged in a team-high 21 points in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan scored 50 points in that game, then added 39 in Game 5 as the Bulls ousted the Cavaliers from the playoffs.
EhloÆs struggle continued when the Rockets waived him on October 10, shortly before the start of the 1986û87 season. Recognizing that he needed to showcase his skills if he wanted to remain in basketball, Ehlo opted to play for the Mississippi Jets of the Continental Basketball Association. He didnÆt have to stay long, however, playing in only six games before the Cleveland Cavaliers came calling. Struggling because of injuries to guards John Bagley and Mark Price, the Cavs signed Ehlo to a 10-day contract on January 13. Cleveland then signed him for the rest of the season on January 22, beginning a seven-year relationship between Ehlo and the Cavaliers. The fourth-year guard contributed immediately to his new club. He appeared in 44 games, starting 15 times, and averaged 6.2 points in 20.2 minutes per game. He nailed a season-high 26 points against the Atlanta Hawks on January 29.
Ehlo spent most of another season on the RocketsÆ bench. This time he played in only 36 regular-season contests, averaging 2.7 points in 5.5 minutes per game. His season scoring high was 8 points against the Seattle SuperSonics on April 8. The Rockets advanced all the way to the NBA Finals in 1986 with a powerful team that included Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rodney McCray, John Lucas, Robert Reid, Allen Leavell, Mitchell Wiggins, and Jim Petersen. Ehlo appeared in 10 postseason games, scoring 20 points in 38 total minutes. He scored the final basket of the 1986 NBA Finals, shortly before Boston Celtics fans charged onto the court to celebrate their teamÆs six-game series victory.
Ehlo saw limited action in 1984û85, appearing in only 45 games as a role-player off the RocketsÆ bench. He played a total of 189 minutes, scoring 1.9 points per game and adding 25 total rebounds and 26 assists. He scored a season-high 10 points against the Denver Nuggets on December 22. Meanwhile, Ralph Sampson and rookie Hakeem Olajuwon began to turn the RocketsÆ fortunes around. Houston finished at 48-34 and advanced to the NBA Playoffs, in which the Rockets lost to the Utah Jazz in a five-game first-round series. Ehlo appeared in three of five postseason games and scored 4 points in 6 minutes of action.
Craig Ehlo was inspired to play basketball by his mother, Deanie, who received a scholarship and played basketball at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Texas. He grew up in Lubbock, Texas, attended Odessa Junior College, and then transferred to Washington State for his final two seasons. Playing for Coach George Raveling, he made his mark by scoring 37 points against the University of Washington in his final college game. Although he averaged only 12.0 points as a senior, Ehlo was nevertheless an attractive package for NBA teams because he possessed outstanding ballhandling and shooting skills for his 6-foot-7 size. The Houston Rockets selected him as the 48th overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, the same draft they used to select Ralph Sampson and Rodney McCray. Ehlo watched from the bench as the Rockets struggled to a 29-53 record under new coach Bill Fitch. Ehlo had suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle during training camp that caused him to miss all but seven games of the season. After the Rockets activated him in April, Ehlo scored 23 points in 63 total minutes.
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