Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jamal Crawford Out for the Season [J. Mark English]

The Knicks playoff dreams may have taken a serious setback last night in their thrilling victory against the Miami Heat. This is from Howard Beck of the New York Times:

The worst news of the
Knicks’ season came to Isiah Thomas in two parts. First came the alarming late-night call from the team doctor after Monday’s victory against Miami. Then, 12 hours later, came the crushing words: Jamal Crawford, the Knicks’ best clutch shooter, is out for the season.

Dr. Lisa Callahan, the team’s director of player care, delivered that news to Thomas just before noon on Tuesday. Thomas unleashed a primal scream that echoed through the hallways at the team’s suburban training center.

Yes, the news was that bad. Crawford has a stress fracture in his right ankle and will almost certainly need surgery. The length of his recovery is not yet known, but the team says it expects Crawford to miss the final 24 games of the regular season.

There is a chance that Crawford could return for the playoffs, but the Knicks have to qualify first. And that quest has been dealt a severe blow.

“Believe me, we’re not going to go in the tank,” Thomas said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s a devastating injury for him personally, but I remember there was an old sign in the Boston Garden, and I remember reading it every time I went in. It said, ‘We will not be denied.’ That’s our motto, and that’s our stance right now.”

After defeating Miami on Monday — a victory that Crawford sealed with a late 3-pointer — the Knicks improved to 26-32, two games out of the playoff field in the Eastern Conference. But it will be difficult to make that final push without Crawford, their most creative scorer.

Quentin Richardson will slide from small forward to shooting guard to replace Crawford, who was averaging 17.9 points a game. Jared Jeffries will start at small forward. Thomas said he would not sign a free agent but would instead rely more heavily on the Knicks’ two youngest guards, Nate Robinson and the rookie Mardy Collins.

The loss of Crawford can in no way compare to what the impact of losing Wade will have for the Heat. Nevertheless, the Knicks will be challenged without the consistent scoring that Crawford provides for the team. He's a streaky shooter, but when he gets into a zone he can be unstoppable. Also he has an uncanny ability to make a big shot late in the game. The Knicks have been somewhat resurgent this season. If they can overcome this injury, then they will have shown even more heart and character then most people give them credit for.

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