J-Craw Gets Last Laugh in Pacific Northwest Battle
LOS ANGELES – More than an hour before tip-off Monday night in Los Angeles, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley could be found leaning on the scorer’s table chatting with their close Pacific Northwestern pal, Jamal Crawford of the Clippers.
Thomas and Bradley should have tied him up when they had the chance.
“Maybe that should have been part of our conversation,” Crawford said with a laugh after he powered his Clippers to a 116-102 victory.
Rather than be tied up, Crawford instead ran loose for more than 29 minutes of playing time against Boston, sparking a 13-point, second-half comeback with his ridiculously hot stretch of play to close the third quarter. The 36-year-old, three-time Sixth Man of the Year totaled nine points during that period, all of which were scored during a stretch of just 70 seconds, to turn the tide on this matchup.
“Obviously, they kind of flipped the script there at the end of the third,” Brad Stevens said while discussing Crawford’s hot shooting. “As you all know from watching the NBA, (a) 13 (point lead) is nothing when you’ve got a team like that with their capability. That went quick.”
Boston had led by seven points with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter before Crawford, who is known to heat up in in instant, caught absolute fire. He canned three 3-pointers, sandwiched around a driving hook shot from Blake Griffin, to turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead over just 70 seconds of action.
LA led 75-71 heading into the final quarter.
“I could see it in his eyes,” Bradley responded after being asked of Crawford’s run. “He had the confidence, especially once he hit the 3 on me. I could see it in his bounce when he had the ball in his hands. It’s hard to stop somebody with that much confidence that can score the ball like that.”
Crawford’s scoring pushed the Clippers ahead, but his passing closed the door on Boston. He dished to his teammates for four assists during the first five-plus minutes of the final period, all while scoring four more points of his own.
By the time the midway point of the fourth quarter had arrived, Los Angeles had already pulled ahead 96-80. That’s a 23-point swing over the course of less than eight minutes, and a 29-point swing overall during the second half. Not even Thomas' 32 points and five assists could keep the C's in contention.
A subdued Stevens admitted following the loss, “They just dominated the majority of the second half.”
The Clippers would go on to pull ahead by as many as 18 points, putting on a dunk show in transition as their lead grew. Stevens opted to go with an ultra-small lineup, with Jae Crowder acting as the team’s center, but while that lineup opened lanes up on offense, it was unable to defend in transition against big men like DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.
Monday’s troubling loss leaves Boston with consecutive defeats out West, both of which arrived in gut-wrenching fashion.
They can thank Tyler Ulis for the first, after he canned a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 109-106 victory Sunday in Phoenix.
They can thank Crawford, who finished with 19 points, five assists and four 3-pointers, for the latter after he caught fire midway through the second half to erase Boston’s lead Monday night in LA.
Crawford, surely, won’t let his close friends from the Pacific Northwest forget about what unfolded inside the STAPLES Center. He already has a text lined up for them later Monday night.
“We got you,” he said of his intended message, smiling as the words rattled off of his tongue, “because [Isaiah] said they were going to win.”