Who says Jamal Crawford can’t play defense?
Well, actually it was Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.
Before the Clippers played Detroit on Wednesday night, Rivers was asked whether Crawford was an underrated team defender.
“No,” Rivers said, laughing.
Then after the game was over, after Crawford blocked a shot late in the game and came up with two steals and provided his typical burst on offense, Rivers changed his mind.
“I think he’s the best defensive player we have,” Rivers said, laughing again. “I stand corrected. I apologize.”
Crawford’s defensive effort in the fourth quarter provided a defining moment.
The Clippers were leading by seven points when Crawford blocked a three-point attempt by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Crawford also retrieved the blocked shot.
That eventually led to Crawford making a three-pointer.
“I want to be a better all-around player,” Crawford said. “Like earlier in my career, I had the mentality that I felt like I could outscore anybody. So if they scored, I knew I would get it back.
“But now I’ve been here and Doc’s been here and his team of coaches, I really take pride in defense. I’m more mad at myself than they are mad at me if I make a mistake, because I know they tell us exactly where to be at. It’s my second year in that system so I know where to be at and I know what do. I’m locked in now.”
Crawford also did his job on offense, scoring 14 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter.
But all his teammates wanted to talk about was Crawford’s defense.
“Jamal Crawford, defensive wizard,” Chris Paul said while getting dressed next to Crawford. “He was locking up.”
It has been a difficult season for Clippers reserve point guard Jordan Farmar.
Farmar can’t make shots, his defense has been called out by Rivers and his playing time has been limited.
Farmar played just 11 minutes 40 seconds against Detroit and had just three points.
“Of course you want to be able to play the way you know how and up to your capabilities,” Farmar said. “That’s definitely frustrating. But I know it’s a long season. I just have to stick with it and keep working hard and just hope everything works out.”