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Trouble in the Bubble: Looks like J Crossover is still scorching hot

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Today, we begin an occasional series, Friday Flashback, in which Ajayi Browne will take a look back at either a great Nets moment ... or a great moment from a player on Nets “bubble” team. This Friday, it’s Jamal Crawford’s 51 point game.

2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

After losing out on the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Kyrie Irving the Brooklyn Nets were in desperate need for reinforcements. It seemed like it was going to be a struggle heading to the bubble until Brooklyn sent out an SOS call for help, searching and researching for players to sign up. To everyone’s surprise, Jamal Crawford was chosen to answer that call. Why the surprise? Because Crawford hadn’t played this season!

This one move by the Nets had the whole league talking. J Crossover is now a Brooklyn Net after no team wanted to sign him following the 2018-19 campaign. This was always odd to a lot of fans, including me, because the last time I remember seeing Crawford on an NBA court, he scored 51 points! Mind you, this was after coming off the BENCH. I clearly wasn’t the only one thinking this back before the Nets signed him because even Jamal Crawford himself agreed with me...

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the only statline that stood out during Crawford’s time with the Suns. Jamal Crawford made NBA history by scoring 25+ in three straight games in his 19th or later season. The only other players to ever do that? Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Let that sink in.

Crawford started this run by scoring 28 against the Pelicans on April 5 of 2019, then continued his rampage against the Rockets on April 7 when he scored 27, and then finally just going BERSERK on April 9 in that Suns-Mavericks contest when he scored 51. In his last month in the NBA, he averaged 31.4 points.

Rumor has it that he is still scorching hot and that is bad news for every team BUT the Nets. Take a look...

If he scores 25+ in his debut with the Nets on July 31 (or whenever he plays his first game), that would be more history since it would make it four straight games scoring 25+ for a player in their 19th or later season. So far, the Nets have taken their time with Crawford. He didn’t play in the first scrimmage on Wednesday and won’t play in the second one either on Saturday. He has after all been away from the game for 15 months.

He told Howard Beck’s “Full 48” podcast this week that the Nets are playing it smart.

“Just ramping up,” he said, explaining why he hasn’t played. “Obviously not playing in 15 months, not playing 5-on-5 in four months, you don’t want to go right back at it. So we’re just being smart, picking our spots building up until the season gets started up ... I’ll be okay. “

The 40-year-old Jamal Crawford is not only trying to help Brooklyn win in Orlando. He wants to prove his doubters wrong and because of that he has a chip on his shoulder. He recalled to Beck what it was like at the end of last season ... and the lesson he took from it.

“Because last year I definitely showed I could still play. I know I’m going to get a contract offer. I knew it! I’m like ‘I just won Teammate of the Year. I just showed I could still score. I can still do things at a high level. I’m going to get a contract offer.’ And I planned it like that and nothing came about. That taught me a lesson like, wow, that went nothing like you thought it would. So for me, I just want to stay right here in the moment.

“Last year scared me to death. Like ‘I scored 50 and this can be like over. Wow.’ That’s a scary feeling.”

Yes, you can say that his defense isn’t the best and yes you can say he’s aging, there is no denying that. However, defense was never his strong suit and the man is 40 years old for crying out loud! Despite this, he will guarantee you he can still play.

“I want to do whatever is called upon, whatever’s needed in these next however many months we’re together,” he told Beck. “And that’s my only approach and tried to see guys get better and just try to enjoy the whole process of this. Stay in the moment because I wasn’t in this position three weeks ago!”

Because Crawford was more of a facilitator in Phoenix, people said he wasn’t the same J Crossover that we all know and love. Something that a lot of people haven’t looked into is the fact that on the Suns, this was what was asked from him by the team.When justifying why his scoring numbers went down in an interview with Scoop B, Crawford said,

“People say oh his scoring was down. If they look I only took six shots per game. I wasn’t even trying to score, I was trying to set people up,” he said.

And in talking with Beck, he said the same will be true this season, however long or short it is. He described his conversations with Sean Marks and Jacque Vaughn this way:

“They were ‘we want your leadership.’ Obviously.’ cant shake that when you’re the oldest guy in the league,” Crawford said with a chuckle. “You’ve seen a lot, so you got to provide leadership ... but they want me to play. they want me to provide scoring, they want me to provide playmaking.”

JC was telling the truth because in the 2018-19 campaign, Crawford averaged 3.6 assists with that youthful Phoenix Suns team. The last time Jamal averaged more assists in his career was in his 2008-09 campaign with the Golden State Warriors after coming over from the Knicks. There he averaged 4.4 assists.

Jamal Crawford is still a three-time NBA 6th Man of Year, the most won by any player other than Lou Williams who also has three. He is still a certified bucket-getter. When you’re talking about Jamal Crawford you can’t forget to mention how easy it is for him to score that basketball. He is an absolute joy to watch. Whether it’s him drawing fouls, crossing defenders, or resorting to his signature hop step, there is no stopping him.

Don’t believe us. Here’s that 51-point game again...

So he won’t play Saturday, maybe not until Opening Night in Orlando. We can wait. He has.