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Crawford returns from suspension, refs preseason game

INDIANAPOLIS -- Joey Crawford officiated his first NBA
exhibition game Wednesday night after being suspended for the end
of last season and the playoffs for improper on-court conduct.

Commissioner David Stern suspended Crawford in April for his
conduct toward San Antonio's Tim Duncan. Crawford ejected Duncan
from San Antonio's loss to Dallas after calling a second technical
foul on the Spurs star while he was laughing on the bench. Duncan
contended the official challenged him to a fight.

Stern met with Crawford and reinstated him on Sept. 15 after a
favorable professional evaluation.

Crawford officiated Indiana's 101-96 exhibition win over New
Orleans. The only technicals he called were against the Pacers for
defensive three-second violations.

"It's good to see him back out there," Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "I've always had a pretty good relationship with him.
He's always been understanding to me.

"That was just one isolated situation where he had an off day --
and things happen."

Crawford enters his 32nd season as an NBA referee. He has
officiated more than 2,000 games during the regular season and 266
in the playoffs, including 38 in the NBA Finals.

"Everybody knows that his tolerance level is a lot shorter than
some of the other guys, but he's a proven official," O'Neal said.
"He's been around for years, and when you're around that long,
it's because you're pretty good. I think he's one of the best to
ever officiate games."