After scoring just four points in the team’s first two preseason games combined, instant Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford has been a bigger factor scoring the ball in the last two games.

“Jamal knows how much he means to our team and we want him to be him,” Chris Paul said. “That’s a scoring threat and somebody that defenders fear every night.”

Crawford scored a team-high 25 points at Sacramento Monday and followed it up with 13 in Phoenix a night later. Rivers explained that he thought Crawford was trying to “fit in” too much within Associate Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s new offense, which stresses ball movement and action away from the ball.

“I thought I was messing him up in some ways,” Rivers said. “He was trying to fit in so much. I just texted him, I didn’t even have to [call him]. The great thing about Jamal is that you don’t have to tell him a lot offensively. I just said, ‘I’d really like you to be Jamal at some point.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m trying to fit in.’ I said, ‘No, they fit in around you. You’re an offensive player. Don’t worry if you take enough shots that I don’t like I’ll tell you. I’ve yet to say a word to you offensively and I want you to be aggressive.’

“Because that’s who he is. He’s too good of a source of scoring to rob him of that. And I loved the way he played the last two games. I actually liked the way he played before that. He’s a better passer than I thought. One thing I think he’s showing you guys is that he can defend. He’s never going to be a great defender. He’s not going to be Avery Bradley tomorrow, but he can be a great team defender.”

Crawford showed that defensive effort in all four games, but offensively seemed to find his groove in Sacramento. He returned to the devastating shot-maker that made him the third leading scorer on the Clippers in 2012-13, sinking nine of his 14 shots and going 4-for-6 from distance. 

Photo of Maalik Wayns in preseason actionWAYNS TO HAVE SURGERY ON MENISCUS

Second-year point guard Maalik Wayns sustained a torn left meniscus in Monday’s loss in Sacramento. He is expected to have surgery next week.

Paul, who tore his left meniscus in 2009-10, knows what Wayns will go through to get back on the court.

“Maalik’s like my little brother,” Paul said. “I’m with him all day, every day. I had him with me during the summer. I told him it actually sucks. It’s a tough situation. When things like that happen everybody tells you, ‘It’s going to be alright. It’s going to be alright.” It eventually will, but at the time you’ve got to be real with it. It’s very unfortunate. I told him I’m going to be there for him the entire ride. The hardest part going forward is rehab.

“He had such a great camp and had been playing so well and nobody wants it or deserves it as much as Maalik.”