NBA

Dejounte Murray shines in his best game as an Atlanta Hawk, Doncic carries Dallas

By Sports Desk November 02, 2022

Dejounte Murray showed exactly why the Atlanta Hawks pulled the trigger on their big offseason trade, carrying his new team to a 112-99 road win against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Murray, 26, was a first-time All-Star this past season with the San Antonio Spurs, before the Hawks traded for him in a deal centred around three first-round draft picks.

There were eyebrows raised at the time about if Murray could fit and produce next to another All-Star point guard in Trae Young, but he continued to exceed expectations in a starring performance against the Knicks.

He finished with a game-high and career-high 36 points on 14-of-27 shooting, hitting five of his 12 three-point attempts while adding nine assists, six steals and four rebounds. 

His performance came at a good time for the Hawks, with Young struggling on his way to 17 points on seven-of-22 shooting after briefly leaving the game due to a nasty scratch to his eye

It is the first time this season Murray has surpassed 26 points in a game – also setting season-highs for field goal makes and attempts, three-point makes and attempts, and steals.

Also finding his footing with a new team, the Knicks' Jalen Brunson was comfortably his side's best performer, finishing with an efficient 20 points (eight-of-15 shooting) and five assists.

Since arriving with the Knicks, Brunson is averaging career-highs in points (18.2), assists (7.2), rebounds (4.2) and steals (1.3).

Bucks remain the NBA's last undefeated team

It was smooth sailing for the Milwaukee Bucks in their 116-91 home win against the Detroit Pistons, moving to 7-0 for the season as the only team without a loss.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a strong case as the favourite to win his third, continuing his blistering start to the season with 32 points (11-of-24 shooting, 10-of-12 free throws), 12 rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocks.

He was supported in style by Jrue Holiday, who hit 11 of his 16 shots on his way to 26 points and seven rebounds.

Doncic mounts his own MVP case

Antetokounmpo's biggest challenger for this year's MVP trophy appears to be Luka Doncic, who carried his Dallas Mavericks to a 103-100 win over the Utah Jazz.

In the win, which lifted the Mavericks to 4-3, Doncic shot 60 per cent from the field for his 33 points (12-of-20), leading the game in points and assists (11). Doncic has now scored at least 30 points in each of his team's first seven games, becoming the first player to do so since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.

Still yet to break into the starting lineup after being acquired from the Houston Rockets, Christian Wood put in a strong showing off the bench, scoring 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds.

Garland returns in Cavaliers' overtime win

All-Star point guard Darius Garland returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup and played a big part in their 114-113 overtime win at home against the Boston Celtics.

Having not played since suffering an eye injury in the Cavs' season-opener, Garland did not miss a beat, dishing a game-high 12 assists to go with his 29 points (nine-of-20 shooting) in 42 minutes.

Running-mate Donovan Mitchell showed there were plenty of shots to go around, chipping in 25 points (11-of-27) with six assists in the first real look at the Cavaliers' two-pronged attack using their All-Star backcourt.

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    Mavericks coach Jason Kidd hails Luka Doncic as “one of the best players in the world” after the Dallas Mavericks made it to the Western Conference finals.

    P.J. Washington Jr. sank two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining to seal a 117-116 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday to send them to the finals with a 4-2 series win.

    Doncic finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third-straight triple-double to help Dallas on their way, with Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. each adding 22 points as they rallied from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

    Kidd praised Doncic for another inspired performance after the game, saying: "He's one of the best players in the world, but sometimes we lose sight that it's not just built [around Doncic].

    "One guy can't get you there. You need a team. Right now, he's got a team that he believes in."

    Doncic is just the fifth player to have three straight playoff triple-doubles in history, and he wants to soak in what he describes as a tough win.

    "We won the series. That's what matters in the end," Doncic said.

    "We won 4-2, [even though] we didn't have home advantage. It's great that we won, but just struggles are going to come. You got to stay positive and keep hooping.

    "Today is about today's game, and tomorrow we'll think about the conference finals.

    "I think we should all enjoy this, because this, I would say, was a really hard series."

    Kyrie Irving matches his scoring high for the series with his 22 points, but was quick to admire Washington’s late impact.

    "I think he [Washington] was just waiting for his moment.

    "He's played well the majority of the series, so we had some confidence in him that eventually he would make some big-time shots and grateful that he knocked them down. Man, that's just pure confidence and belief."

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    With the Thunder ahead 116-115 after Chet Holmgren’s dunk, Washington pump-faked to get Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the air and the whistle blew as his shot fell short.

    After the Thunder’s challenge was unsuccessful, Washington made the first two free throws before intentionally missing the third. Jalen Williams’ desperation heave at the buzzer wasn’t close.

    Luka Dončić had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third straight triple-double and Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. each added 22 points for Dallas, which rallied from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

    The Mavericks will face the winner of the Minnesota-Denver series with that headed to Game 7 on Sunday.

    Gilgeous-Alexander had 36 points and Williams finished with 22, nine rebounds and eight assists. The Thunder lost four of five games following a 5-0 start to the playoffs.

    Holmgren’s dunk with 8:26 left in the third extended the Thunder’s lead to 77-60, but Doncic and Irving combined for the next 13 points to make it 77-73.

    The final sequence capped a fourth quarter that had five lead changes and two ties in the final five minutes.

    Irving improved to 14-0 in closeout games in his career and had a 3-pointer to get Dallas within two midway through the fourth, the closest it had been since the second quarter. 

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    The two-time NBA Coach of the Year, who guided the Milwaukee Bucks to the title in 2021, was named Frank Vogel's successor at Footprint Center last week.

    Arizona-born Budenholzer returns to his hometown after taking the 2023-24 season out, having previously enjoyed five-year stints with the Bucks and Atlanta Hawks.

    The 54-year-old has only missed out on the postseason once in his 10 previous NBA campaign, guiding his teams to six division titles and entering the playoffs as top seeds on four occasions.

    Budenholzer now hopes to achieve something similar with the Suns, who endured a disappointing season under Vogel, which culminated in a 4-0 first-round series defeat by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    "It's mind-boggling to me, like mind-blowing, to think that I'm going to be the head coach of the Phoenix Suns," he told reporters during his introductory news conference.

    "I'm excited about working with this roster and these players. We have great players and, with great players, comes great expectations. I think we embrace that.

    "The biggest message I want you to hear is that I would coach this team if it was on the moon. I would coach this team if it was in Alaska, if these players were in Denmark. I would go anywhere to coach this team."

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