A Daily Babble Production
This piece should be about the first time I can remember enjoying the Jamal Crawford Show.
With JC no longer a member of the hated Knicks, I can finally wish success for a player who grew on me during his time in the Sizable Apple thanks to his gradual improvements in decision-making and his willingness to behave himself off the court and to be accountable for his play on it (all rare traits among those Knicks).
In his first home game as a Golden State Warrior, Crawford did well more than exceed expectations. He spent the night using straight-off-the-playground high-dribble moves and quickness to free himself for an assortment of mid-range and bunny jumpers as well as his share of treys. He looked as smooth as ever on all manner of his shots, going 11-for-22 from the field (4-for-8 from three) and 12-for-14 from the foul line en route to a 40-point night while also dishing out seven assists. Just as impressive as the distribution was the fact that the long-careless Crawford turned the ball over only once. This was his night to shine. Or at least it should have been.
But thanks to the Warriors' inability to execute the basics of the game with the contest on the line, it wasn't.
The Warriors never trailed at any point in the third or fourth quarter last night. But they led by two points near the end of regulation, and the game could have been sealed when Mike Beasley missed from 20 feet with two seconds to play. But in what was a recurring theme for the evening, the Warriors didn't box out, and Udonis Haslem grabbed the ball and laid it in just as the buzzer sounded. The Heat wound up grabbing 21 offensive boards to Golden State's 11 and outscoring the hosts 28-8 in second-chance points for the evening.
But that was just the warm-up to the comedy of errors that took place in the final 15 seconds of overtime. With the Warriors leading by four and the hometown announcers stressing the need for the Warriors to either use their foul to give early in the clock or to do anything necessary to avoid allowing a three-point play, Corey Maggette was late sliding to the spot as Dwyane Wade drove into the lane. Flash pulled up and knocked down the baby jumper. Continuation. Score the bucket and one. Free throw good. Lead down to one.
The problem here, of course, was that the Heat were going to have a chance to tie the game on their final possession no matter what the Warriors did with the ball. Crawford knocked down two free throws, and the Heat needed a trey with 13 seconds to play.
It should have been over when Wade threw up an air ball from beyond the arc. But Crawford couldn't corral the rebound as the ball went out of bounds, allowing the Heat one more chance with nine seconds left. This time, they ran shooter Chris Quinn off a screen to the right corner on the inbounds play, and Corey Maggette got there but didn't bother to rise to challenge the shot. Swish. Tie game, seven seconds to play.
It was at this point that the dumbest decision of all was made as the Warrior players apparently forgot (as their coach was signaling to them, according t the announcers) that they were not out of timeouts. Instead of taking one to regroup, Andris Biedrins took the ball out under the basket and telegraphed a pass toward Crawford. We say "toward" rather than "to" because the pass never reached JC, partly because the recipient didn't do a great job of coming to the ball, partly because the pass was telegraphed softly. Often maligned for his defensive intensity and issues focusing, Beasley was right on point this time, sprinting in to intercept the pass. Biedrins blocked Beasley's first attempt on the baseline, but once again, the Heat forward grabbed the rebound and drew a foul on the second attempt. He hit one of two from the line, and a missed Crawford floater later, the Warriors were 130-129 losers.
That's what a team gets to show for playing epically unsound basketball down the stretch.