Jamal Crawford and Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson go for a loose ball in… (Tannen Maury / EPA )
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Caron Butler eased over after the Clippers' practice Friday at Johnson Smith University and sat down on the bleachers with ice packs on both of his knees, a smile crossing his face as he began listening to Jamal Crawford talk about how he has picked up his assist game.
"He's diversifying his portfolio," Butler said.
He paused for effect, and then both Butler and Crawford burst out laughing.
"He's not putting all his stock in one place," Butler continued.
Crawford laughed some more at Butler's analogy. But Crawford played along, knowing there was some truth in it.
"Yeah, I've got my portfolio all around a little bit," Crawford said, smiling.
Crawford said he's seeing more double teams in games and that the defenses are "loading up" on his side of the floor, waiting for him to penetrate when he has the ball.
That's what the Charlotte Bobcats did Wednesday and it allowed Crawford to hand out a season-high eight assists, and this was after he had five assists the game before at Chicago.
"I feel like I can score almost any time," Crawford said. "So, if that's a threat and I show the passing game as well, I think it keeps people off guard."
He knows that he has been viewed around the league as just a scorer, as a player who can get shots up in a hurry.
Crawford has averaged 15.3 points per game over his 12-year career, and most of the time it has been in a reserve role. He also is one of five active NBA players who have scored 50 or more points in a game at least three times.
But Crawford also pointed out that his career average is 3.88 assists per game.
"I've averaged almost four assists over my career and I'm a two-guard," said Crawford, who is averaging 2.2 assists this season along with 17.1 points. "I think a lot of people are more enamored with the scoring, but I like to pass it as well."
"I think everybody is caught up in the excitement of scoring," Crawford said.
"If you look at great scorers in the league like Melo [Carmelo Anthony], if he has 30 points and six assists, the six assists doesn't get as much hype as the 30 points because the scoring is always more exciting. But I don't care as long as my teammates know that I try to play unselfish. I know that I'm not one-dimensional."
The Clippers are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak during which they have won games in a variety of ways.
There were games when their bench was the dominating force, other games when the starters took control, and some games when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin played like the All-Stars they are.
"There are some good things there," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "But we know that we have to keep on sharpening up a lot of things."