Wizards drop a heartbreaker in OT
What a difference a day makes for Jordan Crawford. After scoring five points and committing six turnovers in Saturday's 30-point loss at Miami, the assertive guard dialed up the second triple-double of his career against Atlanta.
Actually, based on Randy Wittman's take of what keyed Crawford's bounce back performance in Tuesday's 100-95 overtime loss , let's tweak that opening sentence.
What a difference a Nene makes.
With the Wizards playing their fourth game in five nights against the Heat, the Wizards coach rested the Brazilian big man, who is still on a minutes count while recovering from a left foot injury. Combined with the brutal schedule and a Miami team seeking revenge after Washington's upset win over them earlier in the month, the Wizards lost by a season-high 30 points.
Not the only culprit, but Crawford, the Wizards de facto point guard these days, shot 2 of 12 against the Heat and turned the ball over more than in any game since his rookie season.
Asked following Monday's practice if the extra burden of running the offense with A.J. Price and John Wall sidelined was taxing Crawford's overall game, Wittman said, "Obviously, I think it is. It's a new position, a more demanding position. Mentally you think differently then when you're running the shooting guard position."
This is where Nene comes in. Not only are the Wizards limited at point guard, they play without their best passing interior player when Nene sits. Nobody will ever confuse the burly 6-foot-11 power forward with a sleek floor leader, but as a distributing presence from the high post, this is exactly what he is.
When Nene is directing traffic, Jordan Crawford is free to do Jordan Crawford things. Against the Hawks that meant score 27 points with all five of his 3-pointers coming in the second half. That meant attacking the glass for a career-high 11 rebounds. It meant doling out a season-best 11 assists and doing it all with while commiting only one turnover.
"I think obviously the game is easier for Jordan when Nene is on the court, " Wittman said. " We can throw and play through Nene, a lot. it gets the ball out of [Crawford's] hands so he doesn't necessarily have to start everything. I think obviously having Nene back tonight helped him."
Asked about Wittman's assessment regarding Nene's presence helping him at point guard, the laid-back Crawford said, "I'm just getting comfortable each game, just playing, going out there playing. Don't have a position. Just like to play."
Drafted by the Hawks in 2010, Crawford played 16 games before Atlanta moved him to Washington in a trade involving Kirk Hinrich. Chatty at times with members of his former team - "they have a good time with me and I have a good time with them" - Crawford seemed to have some extra spice in exchanges with Jeff Teague.
Early in the third quarter Crawford received a hit in the head by his former teammate and the pair each drew a simultaneous technical foul.
"I didn't see why we got the tech," Crawford said. "We real cool, but on the court we like to see who get the upper hand."
Wittman believes his spirited, volume shooting guard, who at times can't help himself when it comes to launching shots from all angles does indeed get a little more juiced up for the Hawks.
"The kid got traded from there," Wittman said. "He's a competitive kid.
"Jordan's going to always keep fighting. He might not always take the best shots. I might scratch my head and look to the ceiling sometimes, but I do know he's going to compete. That's who he is."
In this game, Crawford showed what kind of player he can be, especially when Nene is on the court.