Jordan Crawford adjusted his tie, dusted off his suit jacket and waited for reporters with cameras and tape recorders to gather around him. Crawford doesn’t often wear NBA dress code-approved outfits to games, but he swore that his choice in clothing had nothing to do with his recent return to the starting lineup.
“I wore this before,” Crawford said, smugly.
But what Crawford hadn’t done was deliver a better performance this season than he did on Saturday at Verizon Center. While John Wall got caught up in his one-on-one duel with fellow No. 1 pick, Kyrie Irving, Crawford scored 31 points, continuing his recent run of quality outings, and carried the Wizards to a 101-98 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers that snapped a six-game losing streak. He matched his career-high with five three-pointers, made 13 of 22 shots, and also scored 10 points during a critical 14-5 fourth-quarter run that provided the necessary cushion for the Wizards (8-28) to pull out a win that became a little tougher than it probably needed to be.
“Just shooting with confidence, everything was going in,” Crawford said after scoring at least 30 points for just the third time in his career – but second time in his past four games. “I just wanted to go out and be aggressive. At the two, you’re supposed to be aggressive, get to the free throw line, things like that. I just wanted to do that and try to get a win.”
Crawford, a second-year guard, had another big game against Cleveland. Filling in at point guard for the suspended Wall last season, Crawford recorded his only career triple double (21 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) when the Wizards hosted the Cavaliers on April 1. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet in the same manner on Saturday — as he added three rebounds and three assists — but Crawford did provide plenty of much-needed scoring in his second straight start in place of the now injured Nick Young at shooting guard.
He scored a season-high 32 points before the all-star break in a loss to Sacramento, but he made sure his team wouldn’t let this game slip away.
The Wizards were leading by just one point with seven minutes remaining, when Crawford when on a scoring barrage. He knocked down a long jumper, then buried a three-pointer. And after feeding McGee for a jumper, Crawford made another three-pointer and caught a pass from McGee and dunked.
Trevor Booker made a baseline jumper to extend the Wizards’ lead to 96-86 before Cleveland responded with back-to-back three-pointers to get within four points and forcing Coach Randy Wittman to call a timeout. Crawford then gave the Wizards a little more separation when he drove inside and made a difficult, left-hand, whirling layup. The Wizards’ final three points game from Wall at the foul line, as the team nearly squandered the game through some careless turnovers and poor shots.
“You want to win it so bad, and the time’s going slow, they’re making runs, making big plays — I just wanted to get it over with,” Crawford said, adding that the Wizards were able to finally put together a full, 48-minute effort.
After struggling for much of the season, Crawford has scored in double figures in his past eight games and averaged 21.8 points on 52.8 percent shooting (66-for-125) over that stretch. “I just want to keep doing it. I want to do it every night. We’ve got a game on Monday, I just want to play,” Crawford said. “It’s good to get wins regardless when you only have seven wins. We want to get a win, and we did the things we need to do. Got stops, got rebounds — it was good for us.”
So, apparently, was the business attire many of the Wizards wore to the Verizon Center. As McGee said afterward, “You know how it go. They say if you dress professional, you play professional. So we played professionally and it worked out for us.”
It really worked out for Crawford.