Welcome to the Atlanta Hawks, Jamal Crawford

John Boller@jboll0327Correspondent INovember 4, 2009

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 28:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Indiana Pacers at Philips Arena on October 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks draw even on their West Coast road trip after holding off the Trailblazers in Portland last night 97-91.

The win came in large part to the play of Atlanta’s new reserve point guard, Jamal Crawford. Crawford helped spark a Hawks team that had a 10-point deficit after the first period.

Crawford’s 17 points in the first half put the Hawks back in the game trailing 48-47 at halftime. His strong play continued over to the second half and he finished with a game-high 27 points and team-high seven assists in his best game as a Hawk.

Crawford went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe, to go with his 8-for-16 from the field. He also went 2-for-4 from the three-point line, knocking down both three's in the first half; the Hawks only made five in the entire game.

Crawford’s play off the bench was essential as the Hawks’ main scoring threat, Joe Johnson, got off to a slow start at the Rose Garden.

Johnson did finish as the Hawks’ second leading scorer with 19 points, but was only 1-for-9 with two points and two turnovers after the first two quarters. His only basket of the half was a jump shot with 39 seconds left in the first.

The Hawks’ Zaza Pachulia also played well coming off the bench for Atlanta. He finished with 12 points in just under 14 minutes of action. He, like Crawford, was also perfect from the free-throw line.

Much like their second game of the season against the Wizards, the free throws were critical.

The Hawks (3-1) went 18-for-22 from the line while the Blazers went 13-of-18 from the line. In a six-point victory, an extra five-point advantage from the free throw line could mean the difference between a win and a loss.

The Hawks held Portland to just .424 field goal percentage, holding them to only .286 from downtown, on their way to outscoring the Trailblazers 50-43 in the second half.

After struggling heavily to get himself going, Johnson must have used some smelling salt to wake himself up because he came out on all cylinders to start the third by drilling his first two shots. He ended up shooting 5-for-6 in the third, bringing his point total up to 12 and a 72-69 Atlanta lead.

He only took four shots in the final period, but again made three, including his only 3-pointer of the night with a 1:53 left to give the Hawks a 91-87 lead.

Crawford only had 10 points in the second half, but did have six of his seven assists.

He and starting point guard Mike Bibby played 34 minutes each to finish with a combined effort of 34 points and 12 assists.

This is great news for the Hawks who appear to have solid play at the point guard position with the combination of Bibby and Crawford. In an 82-game season, the more players you have to help control the team, the easier it is to stay consistent.

Having two players who can both create for themselves and others will keep the Hawks’ offensive pace no matter which rotation is on the floor.

For the third time in Atlanta’s first four games, Al Horford finished with a double-double, pulling down 13 rebounds—11 defensive—and scoring 11 points.

For the Hawks they finish up their three-game road trip out West against the Sacramento Kings tonight, and then return to the East Coast for a matchup on Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Their next home game will be on Saturday playing host to the Denver Nuggets.