He’s rolling off of back to back impressive performances, Dejounte Murray is the key to the San Antonio Spurs playoff hopes.
There wasn’t a lot to love about the San Antonio Spurs performance going into the All-Star break. The silver lining of their less than ideal start to the Rodeo Road Trip was Dejounte Murray‘s career-best night on the final game of the trip.
Murray contributed a career-high 25 points and helped hold off a late Oklahoma City Thunder comeback attempt in order to get the Spurs their first win of the road trip. Going into the break we covered how his performance would be key to the Spurs playoff hopes. Murray and the Spurs returned to action last night and San Antonio’s young lead guard picked up right where he left off.
He led an all-around Spurs attack to an impressive road win over Utah Jazz. His game-high 23 points marked only the second time that he has crossed the 20 point threshold this season. He’s now done it in back to back games and has confirmed his spot as one of the pivotal players on a team that is hungry for a playoff spot.
The Jazz actually did a nice job of walling off the paint and forcing Murray and the rest of the gang to settle for mid-range jumpers. They must not have been paying attention to the Silver and Black this season. Don’t they know that mid-range jumpers are kind of this team’s thing? Even though Utah finished with a 42 to 28 advantage in points in the paint the Spurs were still able to secure the win, much to the frustration of Utah’s star big man, Rudy Gobert.
Gobert spoke to Sarah Todd of Desert News and seemed quite upset with how care-free and lose the Spurs were playing. What can we say, when your shots are dropping and you’re winning it tends to be pretty clear that you’re having a good time. Murray’s impressive night seemed to get under Gobert’s skin a little bit.
“It’s on us to come out with the mindset of killers,” he said. “Don’t give them anything. Don’t let them get confidence early in the game. Let Dejounte Murray hit some threes and try to get to the rim, don’t let him just dribble around feeling good and laughing.”
Has the rest of the league not taken notice of Murray’s improved jumper? You may have been able to slide under picks or wait for him at the rim before but not anymore. San Antonio’s emerging guard has been knocking down 3-pointers all season and has been lights out over the past ten games. He’s been punishing defenders for leaving him open behind the arc, hitting on 44 percent of his deep attempts over that stretch.
The biggest question mark on Murray’s game coming into this season was his ability to take and make shots away from the rim. He’s put those doubts to bed with his improved accuracy from behind the arc and in the mid-range. In typical Spurs fashion, he has quietly emerged as a solid mid-range threat. He’s hitting 49 percent of his shots between 10 feet and the 3-point line this year.
It’s only two games and the team still has a long, long way to go before their out of the woods but Spurs fans have to be thrilled with how Murray’s been playing as of late. He hasn’t been shy about voicing how he feels he can impact the team when he’s given the opportunity. It remains to be seen if he can carry the scoring load of a Russell Westbrook-type guard but Murray’s all-around impact on the game is abundantly clear.
The San Antonio Spurs will surely lean on Murray more and more down the stretch as they make a push for the playoffs. Spurs fans will rejoice and big men will gripe as long as Murray keeps tearing up opposing defenses. The sky is the limit for this young Spur.