STOMACH BUG CAN’T HALT CRAWFORD IN NEW YORK
NEW YORK – Jamal Crawford looked weary as he leaned against a wall while sitting at his locker Friday night inside Madison Square Garden.
The usually talkative Crawford was a man of fewer words. He was less than 30 minutes removed from scoring 29 points in his old stomping grounds, putting the Knicks away with 14 fourth-quarter points.
He did it while playing through a stomach bug that caused him to vomit prior to tipoff and was still tugging at him after the Clippers’ 109-95 victory. It’s somewhat bizarre, but in Crawford’s two seasons in Los Angeles he’s almost played better when he was not at peak health.
He went on a shooting tear last February in five games playing with a nasal fracture, going for 20 points or more four times and making 53.7 percent of his shots. A month later, when he arrived on game day in Indiana following the birth of his daughter, London, he scored 23 points on effectively a wink of sleep. That game sparked another 20-plus point bonanza for last season’s Sixth Man of the Year runner up, who has more such games off the bench than anyone in the league since the start of 2012-13.
“Playing through adversity takes everybody,” Crawford said. “Even when you score the points it takes your teammates to get you the ball and the coaching staff and everybody.”
Friday in New York, where Crawford spent four and a half seasons, could be another jumping off point for him. Crawford went 7-for-14 from the field, connecting on five 3-pointers to 16 away from surpassing Kobe Bryant for No. 12 on the all-time list, and had four assists, including two lobs to Blake Griffin and another to DeAndre Jordan.
It’s the third time in the past seven games he’s scored at least 24 points, but it’s the first in that stretch where he looked like last season’s Crawford, draining high-arching 3-pointers or artfully weaving his way to the rim to draw fouls. He went 10-for-11 from the free throw line against the Knicks, who had no answer once he started humming.
“He had great rhythm all game,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I just like the way he’s playing. He’s not forcing a lot. He’s being aggressive and he’s moving the ball when he should move the ball and that’s how you want him to play.”
Rivers even joked about Crawford’s illness, saying that NBA legend Bill Russell threw up before every game so perhaps that meant Crawford would have a “great game” as well.
He was right. And if Crawford is still sick Saturday night in Indiana, the Pacers may have to worry even more about history repeating itself.