Jamal Crawford Is Awesome; Clippers Expose Uninspired Utah Jazz

Apr 8, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) looks to pass against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) and guard Rodney Hood (5) in the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) looks to pass against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) and guard Rodney Hood (5) in the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

With a chance to deal what might have been the death-blow to the Houston Rockets’ playoff hopes and Doc Rivers resting key players, the Utah Jazz embarrassed themselves against Jamal Crawford and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Life is full of lessons. On Friday night, the lesson learned (or was it a re-education?) by fans in attendance at Vivint Arena is that there’s no such thing as a “gimme” for the Utah Jazz. In the NBA, any team can win on a given night.

Even if that team is really just half a team.

With the playoff race nearing the finish line and their opponent severely undermanned, the Jazz did the unthinkable. In what was nothing less than a humiliation of the highest order, the team lost in overtime to the Los Angeles Clippers despite the fact that Clips coach Doc Rivers elected to rest his entire core.

The Jazz had the chance to all but eliminate the Houston Rockets from the playoff race. Instead, they got schooled.

Speaking of lessons, a recurring one throughout my childhood was not to speak ill of others. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” was a commonly recited mantra during my experience as a child.

So, in an effort to follow the advice of my forebears, I’m going strictly positive tonight. This is a “fan blog” after all, so let’s dispense with the talk of the epic fail that just transpired and fan out. Who needs a recap of the most embarrassing moment of the Jazz season anyway? (Not me!)

I’ll refrain from further lamentation about the playoff race. Not a word will be uttered about the way that the team sleepwalked through half the game. Nor will we dwell on the utter asininity of losing to a Clips team sans Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick (among others).

No sir (or ma’am). Tonight, I’m going to focus on something awesome–the incredible, clutch performance of Jamal Crawford.

Coming off a paltry four-point effort against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers and missing most of his running mates, Crawford played an incredible 49 minutes in Utah and was the architect of their embarrassing defeat. It was an inspiring effort under the most difficult of circumstances.

Crawford, along with Paul Pierce and Cole Aldrich, imposed his will on an uninspired Jazz squad. Then, with the game on the line, he was allowed to isolate a step-too-slow Derrick Favors and get exactly the shot he wanted, a game-winning three-pointer that may as well have been a dagger to the heart of Jazz Nation–

For the night, Crawford scored 30 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and made four three-pointers, including the game-winner. It was an impressive display of mental fortitude and yet another in a long line of clutch performances from one of the game’s most unique talents.

A couple of years back, I opined that Crawford was one of the most underrated players in the NBA and that his ability to come in cold and light the fire for his team was a rare skill, even at the highest level of basketball. With his performance against the Jazz, he proved as much once again.

Even now, in the winter of his career, Crawford continues to be one of the best sixth men in the Association.

As I said in the title of this little rant, Jamal Crawford is awesome.

Hoops pundits everywhere had already penciled in a Clippers loss, but Crawford and his crew refused to let it happen. It was the kind of effort we needed to see from the Jazz. In the end, though, the upstarts were upstaged by a 36-year-old who just seemed to want it more than they did.

There’s probably a lesson for the young Jazz right there.

Still, there were (one or two) things to like about Utah’s game despite the wretched result. And despite the J-Craw man crush, this is still a Jazz blog. So here you go…

Alec Burks is back and that’s great news–his 13 minutes were incredibly productive and endlessly encouraging. Also, aside from an astronomical number of turnovers, Gordon Hayward‘s performance was worthy of praise as well; 24 points, 13 rebounds and five assists is a superstar box score.

Aside from that, bright spots are few and far between.

Bottom line, the Jazz lost a game they really, REALLY shouldn’t have. At home. Again (hello, Brooklyn!). There’s a lot more to say, but I promised we wouldn’t be negative, so let’s just give props to Mr. Crawford and call it good, yeah?

As Forrest Gump might say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Next: Utah Stars Legend Zelmo Beaty Inducted to Hall of Fame

The Jazz resume play on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets. Heaven help us.