Crawford a calming influence? Believe it

Crawford a calming influence? Believe it
November 8, 2013, 9:00 am
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Jordan Crawford got his first start of the season for the Celtics on Wednesday in the C's first victory.

(AP Photo)

WALTHAM, Mass. - The Celtics were on the verge of yet another late-game calamity Wednesday night against Utah.

The uncertainty that creeps into the minds of players with one fourth quarter failure after another, such as the Celtics have experienced repeatedly this season, was once again putting the Green team on the verge of defeat.

And to the rescue came ... Jordan Crawford?

Yes, the same Crawford that the Atlanta Hawks shipped out of town after playing a whopping 16 games as a rookie.

The same Crawford that his then-new team, the Washington Wizards, wanted to be rid of so bad last year that they sent him to Boston for an injured player (Leandro Barbosa) who was out for the season, and a veteran big man (Jason Collins) who they anticipated would see very little action.

Last year, Crawford's playing time was erratic under Doc Rivers, but it ended with him being in the regular rotation off the bench in the playoffs.

Now under first-year coach Brad Stevens, Crawford seems to be given even more opportunities, free of the failings and perceptions of his past.

To his credit, he has made the most of his clean slate this season.

The Celtics head into the game Friday night in Orlando coming off their first victory of the season, 97-87 over the Jazz. It was fueled in part by Crawford's cool demeanor when the action heated up in the fourth.

Utah was on a 17-3 run in the fourth when Crawford dropped in a 5-foot floater that pushed the Celtics lead back to double digits, 89-79.

And it was Crawford on the assist to Brandon Bass with 2:06 to play that essentially ended all hopes of a Jazz comeback.

"I thought at the end of the game, he [Crawford] controlled the end of the game when we needed a calming presence," said Stevens. "He did a good job with that."

The Celtics collectively have benefited from Crawford's insertion into the starting lineup. But no player seems to have prospered more from the change than Avery Bradley.

"To have Jordan come out there, he kind of has a swagger to his game," Bradley said. "He feels like he's better than everybody. To have somebody who brings that every single night makes you feel a lot more comfortable out there.

Crawford said he's only concerned about helping the Celtics get off to a good start, and hope that leads to more wins.

"I know what I can do out there," Crawford told CSNNE.com. "All I do is use what God gave me."

Crawford added, "I see the floor, I see things before they happen. I try to get my teammates involved. If I can't do that, I'll look for my shot. That's my game; that's how I play."