Jamal Crawford had one of those second quarters that made it a lot easier for the Atlanta Hawks to play without Joe Johnson for the first time this season.
Crawford hit a 30-footer at the buzzer to cap his game-breaking, 15-point period and the Hawks ran away from the woeful New Jersey Nets, 108-84, in East Rutherford, N.J., on Tuesday.
Crawford, the NBA scoring leader (17.5) among players who have not started a game, finished with 25 points in leading Atlanta to its ninth win in 12 games.
“It’s a luxury we have on this team,” center Al Horford said. “We really don’t take him for granted. He can come in and change games for us.”
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That’s exactly what Crawford did in the second quarter, when he made seven out of 10 shots. Six of the baskets came in a quarter-closing, 19-5 spurt that gave Atlanta a 55-39 halftime lead.
“He’s been solid like that all year off the bench for us,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “We expect that out of him. He had that one little hot streak and they called a timeout. Then I ran three straight plays to him and he delivered. It was nice to see.”
Crawford capped his run with a nothing-but-net 3-pointer after a missed free throw by Brook Lopez with 5.8 seconds to go.
“This feels good,” said Crawford, who was a star at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High. “I think we’re getting better. That’s a team that’s down right now, but you can’t take anybody lightly. We didn’t give them any chances, any life to think they could put together a run and come back. At this point in the season, we understand our roles and what we have to do.”
Bremerton High’s Marvin Williams added 15 points for the Hawks, who rolled while Johnson stayed home to rest his Achilles’ tendinitis. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday. Horford finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Lopez had 21 points for the Nets, who lost for the 60th time in 67 games. New Jersey needs to win three times in its last 15 games to avoid tying or breaking the NBA mark for fewest wins (nine) in a season. 1 STUCKEY RETURNING SOON? Pistons coach John Kuester says he’s hoping Rodney Stuckey will play Friday at Indiana. The former Kentwood High star was out of the lineup Tuesday against Cleveland, missing his sixth consecutive game since collapsing on the bench against the Cavs.
2 WIZARD HAS SURGERY Washington Wizards forward Josh Howard could miss the start of next season after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee.
3 FASTBREAKS Nuggets coach George Karl was back on the bench against the Wizards after missing four games for cancer treatments. ... Heat forward Michael Beasley was back in Miami’s starting lineup Tuesday against San Antonio, after a two-game absence with a bruised left thigh. ... The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed former Arizona guard Mustafa Shakur to a 10-day contract.