Crawford leads Wizards to first road win

Crawford leads Wizards to first road win
December 11, 2012, 11:15 pm
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Phil and Buck break down the Wizards win over the Hornets

Apparently the Wizards finally found their winning road formula after starting the season with eight straight losses away from home: don't score in the first half. Washington's first road win came on a night the Wizards tallied 11 first quarter points and their fewest in any first half this season.

Playing a struggling New Orleans Hornets squad helped. Having Jordan Crawford take over in the fourth quarter and finish with a season-high 26 points certainly did. Starting in place of the injured A.J. Price, Crawford outscored the Hornets 12-10 in the fourth quarter as the Wizards rallied for a 77-70 victory.

Aesthetically pleasing this game was not, but it's not like the Wizards (3-15) have been finding pretty -or any - ways to win. Neither team could hit the broad side of a Bourbon Street bar, each side shooting 32 percent from the field. However in the fourth the Hornets (5-15) really went low, finishing 4 of 22 (18.2 percent), including a stunning 0 of 14 by their starters.

Interior help came from Nene, who in 20 minutes had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Bradley Beal finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Ryan Anderson led the Hornets with 17 points, but all came in the first half and he finished 0 of 7 in the clanking fourth quarter. Former University of Maryland star Greivis Vasquez finished with five points and eight rebounds.

Crawford hardly conjured up any images of efficiency - he took 24 shots, made nine - though his 26 points represented the most scored by any Wizard this season. However, the volume shooter did a little bit of everything over the final 12 minutes, his fingerprints involved in Washington's final 16 points. 

Following Saturday's loss to Golden State, yet another in a series of near misses, the confident third-year guard was asked if he felt pressure without Wall and others in the lineup.

"Come on, you feel pressure," Crawford slyly cracked back.

First there was the driving layup with over nine minutes that gave the Wizards their first lead of the game at 63-62 after Washington trailed New Orleans earlier by 13 points. Tied at 65 with five minutes remaining, Crawford's deep 3-pointer put the Wizards ahead for good. Guarded by Vasquez in the ultimate chutzpah matchup, the former Xavier star drove on the ex-Terp, pulling up at the right elbow for a fadeaway jumper. Fouled on the play, Crawford converted for his personal 6-0 run and a 71-65 lead.

Serving as the primary ball handler in the fourth, Crawford deftly fed a cutting Nene on a secondary fast break for a layup after the Hornets showed signs of life by actually scoring. Then came another 18-foot fadeaway, and then came two free throws. Yes, he also missed two in the process, but this wasn't a night about proficiency, but rather winning. Crawford certainly proved adept at that.

Playing their first game without Price - and again without Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and John Wall - and with a seventh different starting lineup, the Wizards delivered an offensively punch less first half. Washington tallied 11 points in the opening quarter, its lowest total for any quarter this season, on 4 of 18 shooting. At the half, a meager 36 points, the team's fewest first half total this season. As for the game, Washington surpassed its season-low of 76 points scored at home on Nov. 17 against Utah.

Mind you this production came against one of the league's worst defenses, though the Hornets benefitted by the return of The Unibrow, a.k.a. Anthony Davis, who scored 13 points in his first game after missing 11 consecutive with an ankle injury. Yet New Orleans' own scoring issues kept Washington close at halftime, down 42-36 before tying it in the third.

Crawford took over from there. No pressure indeed.