Crawford finds his missing game in crunch time

Crawford finds his missing game in crunch time
November 24, 2013, 12:15 am
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Jordan Crawford was having one of those nights.

No matter where he shot the ball from, nothing was going to fall.

But as the Boston Celtics continued to hang around, everything changed in the fourth quarter.

Instead of melting under the intense pressure of fourth quarter basketball, the Celtics molded themselves into a rock-solid unit with the guy who literally could not make a shot for most of the night - Jordan Crawford - leading the way.

You don't have to like Jordan Crawford.

He could care less, honestly.

But you have to respect the man's game, especially on Saturday night when the Celtics seemed headed for another end-of-the-game heartbreak only for Crawford to steal the show and in doing so, steal away what the Atlanta Hawks surely felt was a game they should have won.

Crawford's fourth quarter heroics concluded with him tallying 12 points and 10 assists for his second double-double this season.

More important, the Celtics (5-10) got a 94-87 win over the Hawks to snap a six-game losing skid.

The Celtics were down double digits early in the fourth, only to chip away at the Hawks lead one big shot, one defensive stop at a time.

And as they got closer, it was clear that Crawford didn't want to just contribute - he wanted to be the catalyst.

"Jordan was really wanting the ball in those moments," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "It was the best move to get it to him at that time. After he made the first move and maybe even the second, guys came back to the huddle and said let's keep it in his hands."

And so they did, all the way to a much-needed victory.

Said Jeff Green: "Jordan was making plays for everybody. When something is working, why change? With him having the ball, he put the pressure on the defense and made plays."

After a series of lead changes late in the fourth, the Celtics closed out the game with a 10-2 run which included five points from Crawford.

Those five points were part of a 10-point fourth quarter scoring by 6-foot-4 guard.

While there were a number of players who missed shots, defensive assignments or both through the first three quarters, Crawford put a heavy chunk of the blame on  himself for the team's struggles.

"When we was down, I was kind of the reason," Crawford told reporters after the game. "I was the only one struggling on offense. Just wanted to make the effort, get to the hole and try to make a couple plays."

And he did just that, consistently.

The last two games for the Celtics have showcased just how versatile Crawford can be.

In Friday's loss to Indiana, he displayed a lethal offensive game by scoring 19 of his team-high 24 points in the first half.

And on Saturday despite struggling with his shot, he still managed to keep his teammates involved with timely passing which included a couple of lob dunks to players like Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. 

It's too soon to tell if this will be one of those growth-type games.

We've seen the Celtics play well before, only to struggle soon afterwards.

But this game allowed the one guy that so many have questioned and doubted, Crawford, an opportunity to be the man when it mattered most.

And to his credit, he made the most of his chance in leading the Celtics to a much-needed win.

"We learned a little bit about ourselves," Crawford said. "Everybody stay together, we'll be alright."