Bulls' Crawford Lands on Head, Will Be OK

Friday, November 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ The Chicago Bulls stood in silence, watching as Jamal Crawford was strapped to a stretcher and taken off the floor to the hospital.

They've seen players jump to block a shot hundreds, maybe thousands of times. At worst, somebody gets hacked, maybe poked in the eye. Almost never does a player tumble over backward, landing on his head like Crawford did in a scary scene Thursday night.

``That,'' Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi said, ``is the one that usually gets football players in trouble.''

Crawford is expected to be fine. But the Bulls locker room was a somber place after the game, and it had little to do with their 92-89 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Latrell Sprewell scored a season-high 27 points, including a 3-pointer that forced overtime. He scored four more in the extra period, and Sam Cassell went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to seal the victory.

``Our hearts go out to Jamal,'' Donyell Marshall said. ``That's our main focus. We're people before we're basketball players.''

Crawford was conscious and able to move and talk after he fell. He was taken to Rush Presbyterian as a precaution, and underwent a battery of tests to make sure nothing was wrong.

``When something like that happens, you immediately think the worst,'' said Jalen Rose, Crawford's closest friend on the Bulls. ``Fortunately for us and fortunately for Jamal, that didn't happen.''

In other NBA games, it was Dallas 97, Houston 86; and Portland 112, Sacramento 110.

Crawford was guarding former teammate Fred Hoiberg midway through the fourth quarter when Hoiberg faked to his left. Crawford took the bait and jumped.

He and Hoiberg collided while Crawford was still in the air, and he came down on Hoiberg's upper back. He tumbled over backward and with little to break his fall, landed on the back of his head, just above his neck. His head snapped forward, his chin hitting his chest.

``It was just one of those fluke things,'' said Hoiberg, who visited the Bulls' locker room after the game. ``I just hope he's OK. I'm going to give him a call to make sure he's all right.''

It would have been understandable if the Bulls had fallen apart after that. Instead, they rallied. After tying the game at 77 with 3:15 to play, Rose made a driving layup with 39 seconds left to give the Bulls an 81-79 lead.

Fouled by Kevin Garnett with 24 seconds left, Rose _ the team's best free throw shooter _ made the first shot to give the Bulls an 82-79 lead. But he missed the second shot.

``I feel like I let the team down,'' a dejected Rose said. ``I had an opportunity to put us up by four. Not saying anything can't happen, but it's unlikely.''

Sprewell made the most of his opportunity, hitting a long 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. And he wasn't done. After missing a long 3 with the game tied at 84 in overtime, Sprewell dashed in to grab the rebound and score on a layup.

Kendall Gill tied it with a jumper, but Sprewell answered right back with a 22-footer that put Minnesota ahead 88-86 with less than a minute to play.

Scottie Pippen missed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds to play, and the Bulls were forced to foul.

``Whenever you win and are able to knock down shots like that, it just feels good,'' Sprewell said. ``We have been on the other side of games like this, and it just leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. So to actually come out and win one, it means a lot.''

Mavericks 97, Rockets 86

At Dallas, Antoine Walker had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to lead to Dallas over Houston, snapping the Rockets' four-game winning streak.

Walker scored seven of his points in a game-turning 22-8 run in the third quarter that put Dallas ahead to stay.

Dirk Nowitzki had 23 points, Steve Nash had 16 and Michael Finley 14. Antawn Jamison had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Jim Jackson led Houston with 23 points.

Trail Blazers 112, Kings 110, OT

At Portland, Ore., Zach Randolph has 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Portland overcame a 24-point deficit to beat Sacramento.

Damon Stoudamire's reverse layup put Portland ahead for the first time in the game, 109-107 with 3:23 left in overtime, before Rasheed Wallace followed up with a decisive dunk.

Mike Bibby hit a 3-pointer to keep it close at 111-110, but Doug Christie missed a 23-foot jumper that would have put the Kings back on top. Bibby missed an 18-footer at the buzzer.

Bonzi Wells had 27 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers and Wallace had 26 points as Portland improved to 5-1 at home.

Bibby had 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Kings. Peja Stojakovic had 27 points.