The Atlanta Hawks are delighted with the scoring they're getting from sixth man Jamal Crawford. The Charlotte Bobcats, meanwhile, would be happy just to get their starting five on track.With Crawford coming off two straight strong performances, the Hawks conclude a four-game road trip Friday night against a Bobcats team that has been abysmal offensively.
After opening the season with two home wins, Atlanta (4-1) has kept its momentum going with a strong trip. Crawford had 26 points off the bench to lead the Hawks to a 113-105 win over Sacramento on Wednesday night, a day after scoring 27 in a 97-91 victory over Portland.
Crawford, acquired in a trade with Golden State in June, is averaging 17.8 points and shooting a team-best 92.0 percent from the free-throw line. He's made 50.8 percent from the field after finishing each of the past seven seasons under 42 percent.
"These guys already had a good five that took them to the second round of the playoffs last season and the (first round) 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)."
Atlanta is averaging 108.0 points with Crawford taking some of the scoring burden from Joe Johnson, averaging 22.8 points.
Crawford is no stranger to being a reserve. He played that role in parts of four seasons with New York and earlier in his career with Chicago.
"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's just coming off the bench doing it now."
Charlotte (2-2) desperately needs a scoring boost from somebody. The Bobcats are averaging an NBA-worst 79.8 points and they're the only team in the league shooting below 40 percent, making 36.0 percent.
Charlotte played two overtimes in the only game it was able to top 80 points this season, beating New York 102-100 last Friday night.
Boris Diaw is the only Bobcats stater shooting over 40.0 percent. Tyson Chandler, a career 55.4-percent shooter, has been limited to 30.8 percent.
The Bobcats shot 32.4 percent against New Jersey on Monday night, but held the Nets to seven points in the third quarter of a 79-68 win. Charlotte was helped by a strong effort from Gerald Wallace, who had 24 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.
That was the top scoring performance by a Bobcats player this season. Wallace is shooting 33.3 percent, but he's averaging 14.0 boards and has keyed a defense that has given up 87.5 points a contest.
"(Coach) Larry Brown, he says I should get every rebound that comes off the rim," Wallace said.
Brown and the Bobcats thought they would get some help offensively with the return of Raja Bell, who made his first start of the season after deciding to put off surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. Bell, though, looked rusty, going 1 for 8 from the field and finishing with three points.
Bell averaged 13.0 points in 45 games for Charlotte last season after being acquired in a trade with Phoenix in December.
The Bobcats could get more help if shooting guard Flip Murray can make his debut after missing the first four games with a left shin injury. Murray, who averaged 12.2 points for the Hawks last season, was signed as a free agent in September.
Atlanta went 3-1 against Charlotte in 2008-09.
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