SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jamal Crawford welcomes his role as the sixth man for the Atlanta Hawks.
Crawford came off the bench to score 26 points and help Atlanta beat the Sacramento Kings 113-105 on Wednesday night.
“These guys already had a good five that took them to the second round of the playoffs last season and the season before that,” Crawford said. “I understood what it was going on coming in and was just happy with that. I just had to be a part of what was going on. I wasn’t going to disturb (the starters).”
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Joe Johnson scored 26 points while Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby each added 13 for the Hawks (4-1), who grabbed a season-high tying 47 rebounds.
“Jamal is a proven scorer in this league,” Johnson said. “He’s not a starter, but he can still get 20 points. It’s really no difference, he just coming off the bench doing it now.”
Crawford said he was not stranger to being a reserve in the league.
“Early in my career I’ve been a sixth man,” he said. “But here it’s an adjustment that my coaches and teammates have made it very, very easy for me.”
Kevin Martin, who was playing with bruised right wrist, had 29 points and 11 rebounds and Jason Thompson added 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings (1-3).
“We couldn’t stop them,” said Sacramento coach Paul Westphal. “We couldn’t stop them pretty much the whole game. The really executed well and went to their big time players. All of them.”
The Kings jumped out to a 7-0 start before the Hawks came back to take a 19-18 lead on a basket by Maurice Evans at the 2:39 mark of the first quarter. From there, Crawford scored Atlanta’s last seven points to give the Hawks a 26-24 advantage to end the period.
Crawford made six of seven shots from the field, including two 3-point shots to finish with 14 points in 15 minutes in the first half.
After seven lead changes to begin the third quarter, the Hawks led 76-72 after Josh Smith completed a three-point play with 4:22 left in the period. The Kings countered with a 10-3 run capped off with a 3-pointer by Beno Udrih to make the score 84-79.
Martin had 25 points going into the fourth quarter, but the Kings, who were ahead by four, allowed the Hawks to surge back to a 93-92 lead after Bibby made a 3-pointer with less than 10 minutes to play.
Johnson’s jumper with 3:20 left extended the lead to seven.
Martin finally scored his first basket of the fourth on Sacramento’s next possession, but it was too late. Crawford answered with a 3-pointer that put the game away.