Jordan Crawford gets a surprising call to close
Jordan Crawford arrived at Verizon Center on Saturday as one of the least likely candidates to be on the court, let alone hitting a game-tying jumper, in crunch time against one of the league's best teams. Before arriving in Washington in the Kirk Hinrich trade, Crawford was collecting DNP-CDs with regularity in Atlanta, where veterans Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford were called in to close.
But his former Hawks teammates, Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans, knew that the rookie was capable of responding in such a situation. And, he did. Crawford had 10 points -- coming within one point of his career-high -- in 17 minutes and buried a difficult jumper over Jason Kidd to tie the game at 97 with 96 seconds remaining.
With the Dallas Mavericks in town, Josh Howard wanted to be on the floor at the finish, but he asked out when he started feeling some soreness in his left knee. And since you know he had a year of pent up emotion, Howard must've been in some serious pain because adrenaline couldn't even push him along.
So Coach Flip Saunders called on Crawford, a player that the Wizards were high on during the draft last summer, when he was selected 27th overall out of Xavier. Crawford is most known for being the guy who dunked on LeBron James and had the video confiscated by Nike, but Saunders was familiar with Crawford because he had come up in Detroit around the time when Saunders coached the Pistons.
"He can make plays," Saunders said. "He is playmaker. He has the ability to score. He is extremely talented. He has no fear going against anybody, and the other thing was he made shots, so we kept him in the game."
He is extremely laid back, speaks with a slow drawl and slouched shoulders. But when he's on the court, Crawford can play a little frantic and fearless. "He definitely has a scorer's mentality," Evans said. "Missing shots doesn't bother him. He's going to stay aggressive."
When asked what Crawford needed to do to get better, Bibby said, "Get on the court. Being with a lot of the younger guys, getting a chance to play and show what he can do. Flip's going to let him do that."
Crawford didn't feel that he had the opportunity to improve simply by practicing against Johnson and Jamal Crawford every day in practice. "You can't, that's how I look at it. I don't think you can. Me, I was always the type of person that felt I play better five on five," he said. "Workouts is good because you stay in shape and stuff like that, when you're playing games, that's the only way to get better."
Jordan Crawford added that Jamal Crawford offered some good advice while he was in Atlanta. "He told me, go out there and do what you do. Don't hold back. If you hold back, you're going to regret it at the end," he said.
After his first game with the Wizards, Jordan Crawford was sitting in front of his locker room stall at AmericanAirlines Arena, munching on a some barbecue potato chips. I asked him if he nervous on his shot, a rushed jumper that soared just a bit outside and didn't come close to touching...the net.
Crawford quickly put away the bag of chips, muched some more, dusted the crumbs from his fingers and asked me to repeat the question. Howard was standing next to him and said, "Oh yeah, the airball!"
Crawford shrugged and said, "I just came around [the screen] wrong."
He added that he was still waiting to get comfortable with his teammates. "I ain't even made it to D.C. yet."
Crawford made it to D.C. and had an influence on the game a little earlier than expected. "I'm glad coach gave me the opportunity and I'm looking for more down the road," he said.
| February 27, 2011; 1:40 PM ET
Categories: Jordan Crawford
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