Chris Singleton walked slowly to the middle of the Washington Wizards‘ locker room. The team had just dropped its 15th game of the season and lost yet another player to injury. As he looked at the horde of media standing around him, he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s tough, man,” Singleton said. “We’re dropping like flies over here. It’s crazy. We got [Trevor Booker] out, Trevor [Ariza] out, John Wall — we got two [point guards] out. We’re just going to have to make adjustments and keep fighting.”
In the team’s 101-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at Verizon Center, point guard A.J. Price fractured his hand early in the first quarter. He’ll be evaluated by a specialist Monday, but expects to be out four to six weeks. His hand wrapped in ice and a bandage, Price rejoined his teammates on the bench for the rest of the game.
“It was important in my eyes to let the guys know my morale wasn’t down, even though I was injured and I’ll be out,” Price said. “I’m still with them 100 percent, as I know they would be for me if the shoe was on the other foot.”
Standing just a few feet away was Jordan Crawford, who heard his teammates. Asked if he felt any extra pressure with the team down Wall and Price at point guard, the unflappable Crawford simply shrugged, his face expressionless.
“Come on, you feel pressure,” Crawford responded. “It’s really common sense. When we in scoring droughts, I’m going to score. I want to put that load on myself, so I go.”
Stepping in for Price at the point, Crawford almost single-handedly kept the Wizards in the game, leading the team in points (22), rebounds (seven) and assists (eight). His evaluation of the Wizards‘ dismal season makes no mention of the team’s rash of injuries, though. He doesn’t see it as an excuse.
“We doing everything that’s keeping us from winning games,” Crawford said. “Simple mistakes are keeping us from winning. It don’t matter who is down, it’s always somebody who can step in that position and play for him.”
Crawford, 24, now in his third year in the league, leads the team in scoring (14.2) and is second in assists (3.9) behind Price. There are two things he’s known for: an unfailing confidence in his ability and the tendency toward a shoot-first mentality.
Still, Crawford can be relied on to run the point when necessary, knows how to set his teammates up and gives coach Randy Wittman a lot of options when he’s on the floor.
“He’s a competitor,” Wittman said. “I thought he did as good a job playing as many minutes as he had to play tonight under circumstances that he hasn’t had yet. He battled, he made some shots down the end to get us and keep us there to have a chance.”
Wall is out indefinitely with a stress injury to his left knee, and Price will join him on the bench. The team cut Shelvin Mack before the season began and released Jannero Pargo after seven games to make room for Shaun Livingston, who spent the first two weeks of the season looking for a job and still is adjusting.
So the burden of running the team and carrying the scoring load falls to Crawford for an indefinite period of time. It doesn’t faze him in the least.
“We got a lot of the season left,” Crawford said. “I’m still positive, still happy to be in this position. I’m just going to take full advantage of it.”