Jamal Crawford is among the highest scoring reserves in the NBA, but he's been much more productive as a starter recently.
A day after spurring the Los Angeles Clippers to a win over the top team in the Western Conference, Crawford will try to continue his impressive stretch against one of the worst as they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Crawford's average of 17.9 points off the bench is among the league leaders after he finished second with 16.5 last season. The veteran guard is proving he can be even more effective as a starter after replacing the injured J.J. Redick (back), who is reportedly out for at least two more weeks.
In the seven games since Redick got hurt, Crawford is averaging 26.0 points on 46.7 percent shooting. He turned in his best performance of that stretch Sunday, connecting on 13 of 20 field goals - 5 of 8 from beyond the arc - while finishing with 36 points in a 125-117 win at Oklahoma City.
Despite his effort, Crawford is more concerned with the Clippers (38-20) stringing wins together for a playoff push. They lead the Pacific Division, but are fourth in the conference.
"It's very important," Crawford said. "Coming down the stretch, we just want to continue to do our game, every single night, no matter who we're playing. It doesn't matter. As long as we keep getting better down the stretch, I think we'll be in good shape."
Avoiding a letdown would surely help.
Los Angeles has won six of the past seven meetings with New Orleans (23-32), including four in a row after winning this season's lone matchup, 108-95 at home Dec. 18.
Crawford had 17 points as a starter in that one, but needed to go 10 for 11 from the line to overcome his 3-for-13 effort from the floor - 1 for 7 from behind the arc.
DeAndre Jordan, meanwhile, was a force in the paint, grabbing 20 rebounds with 14 points and five blocks. The center leads the NBA with 14.0 rebounds per game, while his 2.4 blocks are fourth.
Jordan averages 10.1 points, but is coming off 18 against the Thunder.
Like Crawford and Jordan, Blake Griffin is also among the league leaders, averaging a career-high 24.3 points. The All-Star forward scored 20 against the Thunder after averaging 34.3 points in his previous seven contests.
Chris Paul had 17 points and 14 assists in the Clippers' last visit to New Orleans on April 12, a 96-93 win. He is averaging 13.8 points and 11.5 assists during Los Angeles' four-game win streak against his former team.
Last in the Southwest Division, the Pelicans have dropped five of six, and are averaging 90.3 points during a three-game skid. That doesn't bode well for keeping up with a Clippers team that ranks second in scoring at 107.1 points per game.
New Orleans fell in excruciating fashion Saturday, giving up a dunk with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to lose 94-93 to Washington.
"That one hurt," coach Monty Williams said. "Our guys are really stinging over that one because we felt like we did enough to win; just a second more, we just didn't have it."
Anthony Davis is looking to build on his 26 points from Saturday after averaging 14.7 over the previous three games. The All-Star forward had 24 points and 12 boards off the bench against the Clippers in December.