They called Jamal Crawford "The Difference" because his scoring punch off the bench helped jolt the Hawks to 53 victories last season.

Now things are just different for Atlanta's shooting guard.

There are fewer big scoring games that made him a fan favorite and Sixth Man Award Winner last season. There are more nights where he hardly shoots at all, can't find his rhythm when he does or generally appears passive on the court.

Crawford said there's been tension this season between his instincts and his altered role in coach Larry Drew's offense. He's a natural scorer off the dribble who sometimes has to be a playmaker when he has the ball and seek scoring chances without it.

"He's had a very hard time," Hawks center Al Horford said. "I think Jamal is the kind of player who goes out and creates plays and makes the game easy for everyone. He can score the ball but it's been an adjustment for him.

"He's such a good guy that he's tried to fit into what we are doing but I think he is most effective going out and playing his game."

When the Hawks traded for Crawford before last season, then-Hawks coach Mike Woodson carved out a narrow role for Crawford: Come off the bench and, above all else, score.

The Hawks ran pick-and-rolls and isolation plays for Crawford to that end. Crawford's defense was unsteady as ever but he was so good in his specialist role that he was a net plus for the Hawks.

"I was an attacker, period," Crawford said. "You are putting teams on their heels the minute you come in the game."

Crawford averaged 18 points in just 31 minutes per game in 2009-10. He scored 20 points or more in 32 of his 79 games, and the Hawks won 23 of them. In the playoffs, Crawford's first, he scored 24 points in Game 6 and 22 points in Game 7 as Atlanta rallied to beat Milwaukee in the first round.