On this day in Chicago Bulls history, Jamal Crawford had a performance for the ages. Here’s what happened.
Jamal Crawford is one of the most fun journeymen in NBA history. He was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year three times — first with the Hawks in the 2009-10 season, then twice with the Clippers in 2013-14 and 2015-16. He’s the best 4-point play finisher in NBA history (thanks to some savvy leg kicks). He has arguably the best crossover in NBA history. He’s simply a walking bucket. Even at age 39, he put up a seemingly-random 51 points with the Phoenix Suns.
His defense and efficiency never quite matched his ability to get hot in flashes, which is why he was mostly a plug-and-play scorer for his entire career — not a building block on the perimeter. But he carries a lot of weight in NBA circles. Everyone loves him, and rightfully so. He’s genuinely awesome.
On April 11, 2004, the Bulls headed to Canada to take on Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, Jalen Rose and the Toronto Raptors. Both the Bulls and Raptors struggled in the 2003-04 season, finishing with 23-59 and 33-49 records respectively, but this game would end up being one to remember.
Crawford had a really nice first half. He played nearly 22 minutes and had 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 shooting from 3-point range to go along with three rebounds and two assists. In the third quarter, Crawford was fine, adding seven points and two rebounds, but it was the fourth quarter where he took control of the game.
If you’re doing the math at home, you’ll notice that Crawford only had 22 points heading into the fourth quarter, meaning he has a ways to go before hitting 50. His 24 fourth-quarter points helped out a bit.
In the final period of regulation, Jamal played the entire quarter and was virtually unconscious. He shot 8-of-13 from the field, 3-of-4 from behind the arc and got to the free-throw line six times. It was a masterclass offensive performance.
In overtime, Crawford knocked down his only two shots and led the Bulls to a 114-108 victory. His final stat line: 50 points on a wild 18-of-34 shooting from the field, 6-of-11 from deep and 8-of-11 from the charity stripe to go along with seven rebounds and two assists. He played nearly 51 minutes and had a +12 plus/minus.
One more fun thing to look at: Crawford’s shot chart. (You can find it here.) Check out how many of his shot attempts came from the mid-range. You’d never see that in today’s game, and you might never see it again. What a weird, beautiful, iconic, cringeworthy, magnificent shot chart! I mean, there’s almost nothing at the rim. Almost everything seems like it’s in that 18-foot range.
The NBA is better when Jamal Crawford is a part of it. The league is suspended right now, but when it returns, can someone please sign this man? He’d be an excellent addition to any locker room and he might randomly explode for 50 on any given night.