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Warriors' Jordan Crawford wins praise from new teammates

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The early returns for new Warriors acquisition Jordan Crawford have been terrific.

Acquired from the Boston Celtics in a three-team trade Wednesday to provide punch off the bench, the 6-foot-4 combo guard has done exactly that in his first two games with Golden State. He'll make his home debut Monday when the Warriors host the Indiana Pacers, owners of the NBA's best record.

"He's instant offense for us, and that's why we made the trade," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said of Crawford. "Our bench, love 'em or hate 'em, sometimes struggles to score for us. They battle defensively and rebound, but sometimes we need someone to score."

Bench scoring is perhaps the single biggest concern for a team with eyes on a deep Western Conference playoff run. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry both averaged in double figures off the bench for the Warriors last season but were lost in free agency.

The offseason addition of Andre Iguodala moved Harrison Barnes to the bench, but he hasn't consistently provided the spark the team needs. Barnes has been held scoreless the past two games and has reached double digits in only three of the past 10.

Enter Crawford, acquired along with MarShon Brooks from Boston in a deal that sent Toney Douglas to Miami.

Crawford, 25, a fourth-year pro from Xavier, scored 10 points Saturday in a 97-87 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Two of his shots were particularly large. After the Pelicans went on a 10-0 run to pull within two early in the fourth quarter, Crawford delivered a fadeaway jumper to slow the momentum.

New Orleans answered with another basket to again get within two, and Crawford delivered a dagger--draining a 3-pointer that put the Warriors ahead by five. The Pelicans never got closer the rest of the night.

"He can create his own offense, and I thought at a time when we were struggling offensively and the game was back and forth, he really made some big time plays for us," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "There's a reason we went and got him, and he hasn't disappointed."

Crawford gives the Warriors a player who can spell Stephen Curry without robbing them of a ballhandler capable of creating his own shot.

"He's a scorer, he's a playmaker," Curry said. "He changed his role from what he was in Boston a week ago to now coming off the bench trying to give us a boost. He's done a great job the last two games making shots, making plays. He's getting more comfortable as we go along, but he's shown why it's such a good trade for us."

Crawford averaged 13.7 points and 5.7 assists in his 39 games this season for Boston while playing more than 30 minutes a night mostly as a starter. He said he's satisfied being a key guy off the bench for a contender where his job is "just coming in providing a spark and keeping the same pace as the first unit. Keeping the fast pace going, getting everybody shots and playing good basketball."

Crawford brings a swagger to the Warriors' second unit as a player who is supremely confident in his ability to score and make plays. That's something fellow reserve Draymond Green, like Crawford a Michigan native, has seen for a long time.

"He's always been that way," Green said. "Some guys lose that when you get to the NBA. He's a guy who's very confident in his ability. At the end of the day, he is a scorer. In that second unit, he has the green light to score."

(c)2014 The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.)

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