Wizards’ Jordan Crawford mired in a slump

February 5, 2013
What do I do now? (AP Photo H. Rumph Jr)
What do I do now? (AP Photo H. Rumph Jr.)

Since returning from a bone bruise in his left ankle last month, Jordan Crawford has had one memorable shot (a game-winner in Portland), one memorable game (a game-high 19 points in a win over Minnesota) and one memorable in-game snack run (he poured himself a handful of Skittles in a loss in Philadelphia).

But that doesn’t overshadow the fact that he has been struggling and slumping of late. Crawford scored just three points in the Wizards’ 98-90 win over the Clippers on Monday night and is averaging just 5.2 points and shooting 32.4 percent from the floor in his past six games. The Wizards (12-35) have also been outscored by 25 points in the 96 minutes that he has played over that stretch.

“He’s in a funk or whatever,” Coach Randy Wittman said of Crawford. “He’s got to stay with it. He’s got to work hard. He’s got to continue to play hard. That’s it.”

Crawford’s shot selection has become a tad more questionable and his minutes have been diminished, which may be directly correlated to each other. He only played five minutes against the Clippers, but the three shots he took in the second quarter – and his overall malaise while on the floor – expedited his exit.

Early in the second quarter, Crawford took a pass from John Wall near the three-point line and attempted an off-balance, one-handed runner with nine seconds left on the shot clock. John Wall later found him in the corner for an open three-pointer that put the Wizards ahead, 30-22, but his next shot ended his evening.

Wall fed Crawford in the corner for a three-pointer, but Crawford passed up on the shot and instead dribbled the ball back about five feet above the three-point line and fired away, badly missing. Wittman didn’t waste any time bringing out the hook, calling for Garrett Temple to substitute for him immediately after the ball rolled out of bounds.

Crawford sat the final 31 minutes. It was the second game in a row that he failed to play in the second half.

“I think it’s something he’s got to find his rhythm when he gets in,” Wall said. “I think he’s just got to get a couple easy shots early and get yourself going and it’s kind of frustrating when you’re not making shots and you’re coming off the bench. But we still believe in him and we still trust in him as our teammate and know he’s going to come out and…you never know, next game, he might come out and have 24. He’s one of those players that gets hot.”

Crawford emerged as the Wizards’ leading scorer, given the freedom to create for himself and others, in Wall’s absence earlier this season. But the Wizards became less dependent upon his scoring and playmaking in the four games that Crawford missed, going 3-1 in his absence – with three of those games coming with Wall back in the lineup.

When Bradley Beal went down with a sprained right wrist, Wittman went with the defensive-minded Temple at starting shooting guard and elected to keep Crawford in the role of sixth man. Crawford has been unable to find out where he fits.

“You go through ups and downs in the season. It’s a long season,” Wittman said. ”It’s working through the tough times. That’s what it is. It doesn’t matter who it is. Every player is going to go through it and you can’t feel sorry for yourself. Got to work through it. And that opportunity, game is going to come and where, boom, you’re going to bust out of it.”

Clippers reserve guard Jamal Crawford, was teammates with Jordan Crawford in Atlanta, where the younger Crawford rarely, if ever, played for a playoff-contending Hawks team.  But he always admired Crawford for his confidence and encouraged him to not get down on himself despite the current circumstances.

“I have just been where Jordan Crawford is before; being frustrated in different situations,” Jamal Crawford, a former sixth man of the year, said. “I was with him in Atlanta and he was like a little brother to me there so I’m always in his ear giving him positive feedback. He can score; there is always a place for a scorer in the NBA. He can also make plays; he’s one of the most underrated passers. I would just tell him to keep working and keep his head. Things have a funny way of working out in this league.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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