Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford is a frustrating player. In addition to possessing so little tact that he once said he plans on being a better player than Michael Jordan — a ridiculous statement that nevertheless speaks to the self-belief necessary to succeed in the NBA — Crawford just doesn’t make very good decisions on the basketball court. He shoots more than is advisable and has trouble admitting it, as well. Simply put, he’s not necessarily the best guy to have the ball in a major moment of the game.
On Monday night, Crawford blew apart that assumption with an amazing game-winner to down the Trail Blazers in Portland. With the score tied at 95-95 and 3.6 remaining in regulation, Crawford took the inbounds pass, took one dribble back and to his left, and elevated over Wesley Matthews to bury what was officially listed as a 31-foot three-pointer at the buzzer.
After the game, Crawford and teammate Martell Webster spoke about the play. From the Associated Press:
”I just wanted to get a clean look, make a good play,” Crawford said. ”John [Wall] set the play; we wanted to get the defense moving and I got open. Tonight I was able to make it. I knew that shot had a chance.” [...]
”I told him when we were diagraming the play, ‘If you are wide open, shoot it. If not, you catch the ball and get into your rhythm and do your thing.’ He’s good at that. Really good. Give the guy some room and he can do some damage.”
It’s rare for Crawford to be praised for his willingness to shoot from anywhere, but this wild winner helps prove why he takes so many iffy shots in the first place. He’s a very talented scorer with the ability to make many different kinds of shots. When the Wizards are forced into a desperation attempt, Crawford’s one of the best choices to take the shot. It also helps that he was having a solid night in Portland — prior to this jumper, he’d made 2-of-3 from deep and 4-of-7 overall from the field in 22 minutes.
Somewhat quietly, the Wizards are playing quite well, having won four of their last six games since the return of John Wall to run their record to a slightly less embarrassing 9-30. What made this win particularly impressive was that it came with fairly woeful performances from backcourt members Wall and Bradley Beal, the two players most responsible for this recent run of good form. While they struggled, players like Crawford, Webster, Nene, and Emeka Okafor stepped up. It may seem like a minor thing, but the Wizards didn’t see that breadth of solid performances when they lost the first 12 games of the season. These are meaningful gains in salvaging what once looked like a wreck of a season.