CRAWFORD PLAYING FREE AND EASY
LOS ANGELES – Free and easy. There are perhaps no better words to use to describe Jamal Crawford’s play this season.
The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has been having a one of his best seasons for the Clippers and that continued Wednesday night in the team’s 117-101 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Crawford led all scorers with 25 points and did it efficiently, going 11-for-16 from the field and hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. It was the fourth consecutive game Crawford has eclipsed the 20-point plateau and he has done it while averaging 27.5 minutes per game.
“He’s been very efficient for us,” Clippers power forward Blake Griffin said. “Besides all the flash and all that, he’s been efficient and he’s helped us win big games and that’s important.”
Efficiency, not always a word that’s been associated with Crawford’s game, definitely applies to the 13-year veteran over the last week. Crawford has been shooting the lights out during that stretch, going 35-for-59 (59.3%) from the field and 11-for-17 (64.7%) from distance.
His effective field goal percentage, which takes into account the added value of 3-pointers, is 68.6% during the last four games. Crawford’s true-shooting percentage, which measures overall efficiency, is a remarkable 72%.
“It’s a credit to my teammates and coaching staff honestly,” Crawford said. “I have the easy part. They are setting great screens and they are finding me. They are great players and they pass me the ball and I have the easy part just finishing.”
Crawford’s 25 points against Milwaukee also gave the shooting guard his 25th game of 20-plus points while coming off the bench, expanding his lead in that category over Knicks guard J.R. Smith who has accomplished the feat 16 times this season.
Perhaps, it’s no wonder that Crawford’s excellent week has come after the birth of his daughter last week. He missed the Clippers 106-84 victory over the Bobcats on Feb. 26 after London Faith Crawford was born in Seattle the night before. He returned to the team a few days later in Indiana and helped lead the Clippers to a crucial 99-91 road victory over the Pacers, dropping 23 points to start this impressive stretch.
“I think about her a lot, that’s for sure,” Crawford said. “When I’m out there, honestly I’m just free; at peace. That’s where you can just clear your mind for two hours.”
His worst shooting performance in the last week came in the Clippers only loss in their last five games, a 108-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Crawford was 7-for-13 (53.8%) from the field but was deathly efficient from distance, going 4-for-5 on his 3-point attempts, including one that gave the Clippers the lead with 1:30 to go.
In that game, he tweaked his left ankle and reaggravated it Wednesday when he landed on J.J. Redick’s foot after his first shot attempt of the game in the first quarter.
“I felt it immediately,” Crawford said. “But when you have adrenaline going you try to play through it.”
That’s just what Crawford did. He made that shot attempt over Redick and went on to score five points in five first-quarter minutes. He continued to roll in the second period, dropping nine points in nine minutes on 4-for-6 shooting, connecting on his only 3-pointer of the quarter.
When he wasn’t raining jumpers from the outside, Crawford was busy dishing Griffin what is perhaps the best alley-oop of the last decade. With the Clippers up 15, Eric Bledsoe jumped on a Monta Ellis turnover and threw it ahead to Crawford, who took off in transition with Griffin trailing. Crawford, who narrowly missed out on his first All-Star game earlier this season, let everyone know what they were missing when he put the ball between his legs and then lobbed it over his shoulder for Griffin, who finished with an incredible windmill jam.
“You have the best jumper in the world right there I might as well get creative,” Crawford said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to kind of do in a game or if I ever made an All-Star game and Blake just took to a whole other level.”
The play showcased Crawford’s artistic style of play and gave his teammates a chance to continue to be surprised by his bag of tricks.
“I love when Jamal is out on a one-on-one fast break or a one-on-two fast break because he’s always going to do something crazy,” Griffin said. “I remember the first time when he did that behind-the-back and scored. Sometimes he does some stuff that’s unbelievable and it’s fun to watch.”