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Rivers on Crawford: 'I know he can score'

2/21/2013

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't know a lot about Jordan Crawford, but there's only one thing he really needed to know.

"I know he can score and that's something we needed," Rivers said of Crawford, the third-year guard the Celtics acquired from the Wizards in exchange for Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins at Thursday's trade deadline.

"Losing Barbosa, I kept saying it, that's hurt us," added Rivers. "We don't have that wild card off the bench. And I'm hoping [Crawford] gives us that. I know about the other stuff, too. I'm hoping, obviously, that our staff and we have some veteran players around here, that he can grow."

The 24-year-old Crawford, the 27th pick in the 2010 draft, has averaged 13.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds over 26.2 minutes per game for his career. This season, he is averaging 13.2 points, 3.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds over 26.2 minutes per contest, starting 12 of Washington's 52 games. Since the return of John Wall from injury, Crawford's playing time has decreased and he had fallen out of favor, leading to Thursday's trade.

Rivers is hopeful a veteran locker room and a winning atmosphere can bring the most out of Crawford.

"The good thing and the bad thing is his confidence," said Rivers. "You rarely say that, but it was tough for him there to buy into a role because he looks at himself and says, 'I'm better than them.' I'm hoping that we don't have that issue here. Obviously, if we do, then it'll be a problem."

Rivers is also aware of Crawford's reputation as a less-than-stellar defender, but thinks his speed and athleticism could mask that, particularly in Boston's system with solid defenders around him. At the end of the day, Boston needed Crawford's talents -- even if it came at the expense of losing one of Boston's top locker room voices.

"Let me just say this: We lost a very important guy in our locker room in Jason," said Rivers. "You take away that, and then you add something else, you just never know with your locker room [how it will respond]. That was difficult for me. ...

"I protect my locker room. To let a guy go like that out of your locker room, for me, that was hard to do. Really hard. And honestly, if Barbosa doesn't go down, it wouldn't have happened. But he did go down, and we had to do something."