Don Nelson now has another piece for his small-ball attack, though he may have to wait one more game to see how Jamal Crawford fits in.
While there’s an outside shot Crawford will make his debut for the Golden State Warriors, if he’s unavailable, Nelson might continue relying on some youngsters Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers in the opener of a five-game road trip.
The Warriors (5-7) acquired Crawford from the New York Knicks on Friday for forward Al Harrington, who had been in Nelson’s doghouse and had not played since Nov. 5, supposedly due to a back problem. So the arrival of Crawford immediately injects more offense into Nelson’s fast-paced style, one which he’s somewhat used to after playing the first 11 games of the season in new Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense.
“I am really excited and energized about this opportunity,” Crawford said. “The Warriors have been one of the most entertaining and fun teams in the league the last few years, and I think my abilities are very conducive with their style and their needs.”
He’s averaging 19.6 points, one off his career-best average from last season, and is hitting 45.5 percent from 3-point range. Whether he debuts Sunday or at Washington on Tuesday, Crawford is expected to immediately join the starting lineup at point guard.
“It’s a good deal, because we really need help at every position,” Nelson said. “There isn’t one that we’re overloaded on. … We normally don’t want to trade tall for small, but we told Al we would trade him for a good ballplayer.”
Once Jackson does play, he is likely to be in a backcourt with undrafted rookie Anthony Morrow, who recently joined the starting lineup and could stay there until Monta Ellis’ 30-game suspension is over.
Morrow scored a combined 62 points in his first two starts, leading Golden State to a pair of wins, before getting held to seven on 2-of-9 shooting in a 115-110 loss to Chicago on Friday.
Besides Morrow playing 34 minutes, the top three players off Nelson’s bench were either rookies or second-year players. While Marco Belinelli was solid in 16 minutes at point guard with four points, three assists and one turnover, fellow 2007 first-round pick Brandan Wright had four points and two blocks in 10 minutes. Anthony Randolph, the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft, had 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 13 minutes.
“Randolph stepped in and showed why we drafted him,” Nelson said. “He’s just going to be really good someday, so maybe it’s time to start playing him. He fits in really well with our small lineup, actually.”
Brand, who signed with Philadelphia in the offseason after spending the previous seven years with the Los Angeles Clippers, hit a key basket in the final minute against his former team Friday to lift the 76ers to an 89-88 victory.
“It’s one of those nights that I’m glad it’s over,” said Brand, who had 17 points. “It was a big deal, there was a lot of anticipation. We got the victory so it’s time to move on.”
It was the fourth win in five games for the Sixers, a stretch during which Brand has averaged 18.0 points and 9.6 rebounds. Young has averaged 20.0 points on 62.5 percent shooting over the last four games.
Golden State has won the last five meetings with Philadelphia.