Confidence in “The Difference”

Saturday, April 23, 2011
By Jon Newberry

Jamal Crawford may not have called “bank” last night when he hit the game-clinching 3-pointer with five seconds left and the shot clock expiring. Still, he made the play. He wanted the ball. Judging by what his coach and teammates had to say, they have plenty of confidence that he would come through in the clutch.

“He’s just the type of player that you want in that type of situation,” said Hawks Head Coach Larry Drew. “He wants to take the last shot. He’s a shot maker.”

“He’s been put in that situation with us numerous times and he’s delivered,” commented Smoove.

Joe Johnson added, “Jamal’s a big shot maker, I think everybody knows that. He’s made big shots since he’s been here.”

Looking back at the game, the Hawks can give Jamal a lot of credit for getting the team in position for his dramatic final shot. After scoring just five points in the first half and seeing the offense struggle to start the third, Crawford made sure that he asserted himself when he entered.

“I didn’t like how I played in the first half,” said Crawford following Saturday’s practice. “It way okay, but I just wasn’t as aggressive. I felt like I was kind of tip-toeing around a little bit. In the second half I wanted to be more aggressive, I thought I owed it to my teammates and myself.”

Then, as he has done all series long, Jamal delivered. He scored six points in the third quarter to keep the Hawks ahead. Then in the fourth quarter he scored 12 points, including a 4-point play, a driving 3-point play and, of course, the dramatic bank-shot to seal the deal.

In his second trip to the playoffs, Jamal seems to have found his rhythm. Last year he averaged 16.3 points per contest while shooting just 36% from the field. This year he is scoring almost 24 points per game, shooting 44% overall, and an amazing 59% from behind the arc.

While fans can expect more of the same for Jamal in Game 4, he is looking for the more of the same from the fans that gave him a boost at the Highlight Factory.

“We’re going to go out there and use the crowd – they were terrific (in Game 3), they were great with so much energy, and they pushed us to victory. So game four, I expect to be better than (Game 3) and I hope we get another one.”