first_imgATLANTA >> Jamal Crawford stood in the visiting locker room in Denver calm — but totally aware he wasn’t doing enough.He knew the ball wasn’t going in. He knew he wasn’t helping his team win games. He knew he wasn’t himself. The Clippers, playing without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, needed a hero, and Crawford couldn’t answer the call.“It’d be nice to put the cape on,” he said Saturday night.Crawford didn’t have to wait long. Two days later, Crawford sprinted out of a slump, making four-straight shots in the fourth quarter to extinguish Atlanta’s comeback and help the Clippers hold on for a 115-105 win on the road.The fourth-quarter heroism comes one day before Griffin is slated to return after missing the last 18 games after arthroscopic knee surgery. Crawford, who had scored in double figures just twice in the last dozen games, dropped 19 off the bench Monday, making 7-of-12 in the second half.“This feels more normal,” Crawford said. “At a certain point, it becomes kind of mental. You stop yourself because you’re thinking too much. …You go through those slumps. And, you know every scorer goes through them.”But, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Before Monday’s game, Crawford spoke with Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, the NBA’s No. 15 all-time leading scorer. And Wilkins, who is currently one of the Hawks’ television broadcasters, told Crawford he’d gone through these kinds of lulls too.“That really hit home,” Crawford said.Before Crawford got going, the Clippers’ other scoring guards, Austin Rivers and J.J. Redick anchored the offense while the team’s defense totally stifled the Hawks.Atlanta scored only 40 points in the first half — Redick and Rivers combined for 27 alone — and the Clippers led by 18. The margin grew to as many as 24 in the third quarter, but fatigue lined up with an Atlanta Hawks’ run that started in the oddest of ways — a Dwight Howard 20-foot jump shot.The lead would shrink all the way down to five, but the Clippers always had just enough to answer back.“Even when they made runs, we kept with it,” Austin Rivers said. “Guys stepped up and made big plays.”Rivers, who scored a team-best 27 points to go with six assists and four rebounds — hit a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers, as did Raymond Felton.Wesley Johnson, Brandon Bass and Crawford combined for 35 points, while Atlanta’s reserves managed only 13.“We had a lot of guys make big plays,” Redick said.Even DeAndre Jordan, who had a relatively quiet 12-rebound, seven-point game, dished out two crucial assists in the final minute to ice the win and snap the Clippers’ brief two-game losing streak.“You could hear them in the fourth quarter. Austin and Jamal kept saying in the fourth quarter, ‘We’re not going to lose this game. This is our game,’” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They just kept saying it, and sometimes, you start believing it.”For Crawford, belief is rarely the problem — but it was becoming one.Refreshed from his talk from Wilkins and ready to put the cape on, Crawford walked by Doc Rivers’ pregame media session in the halls of Phillips Arena.Rivers joked that he was sick and tired of answering questions about Crawford’s struggles. And, without missing a beat, he hit his first shot of the night.“Let’s change that narrative tonight, then,” Crawford said.With his scoring superpowers totally in tact, Monday’s hero saved the day and did just that. last_img

Jamal Crawford finds his stroke in Clippers’ victory

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