Dejounte Murray took full responsibility for his late-game mistake that may have cost the San Antonio Spurs a win
Against Memphis, Murray was phenomenal. His 21 point 10 rebound game has him firmly in the lead of all-time San Antonio Spurs point guards who have had double-digit rebound games. He’s also been locked in on defense, for the most part, since entering the bubble.
But last night Murray slipped up. During a crucial final possession, he shied away from the inbounding Shake Milton, electing to front Joel Embiid in the post and trying to deny him the ball. Milton calmly inbounded the ball to Al Horford, stepped up to the 3-point line, got the ball back, and nailed the game-changing three, all while Murray floated in no man’s land between the post and the 3-point line.
It was a mental mistake, plain and simple. There was no hiding from that and no one tried to make excuses. Not Gregg Popovich, and certainly not the young man who shouldered the lion’s share of the criticism after the game.
Dejounte Murray continues to show why he’s a leader for the San Antonio Spurs
You want your leaders to lead by example and as often as that means doing things right it also means owning up to your mistakes. Dejounte Murray is well on his way to becoming one of the better two-way guards in the league but how he stepped up and took ownership of his defensive lapse last night should be cause for celebration, not further criticism.
Dejounte shouldered the blame for Milton's 3, saying he was supposed to face guard Embiid before jumping out to the perimeter after the Sixers inbounded the ball. "That was just a mistake on my end not getting back," he said.
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) August 4, 2020
Set aside that Murray’s error may have prevented the Spurs from improving to 3-0 in the bubble and being one game back from the eighth seed. These games are about player development, first and foremost. Part of that process includes making mistakes and learning from them. And everything we know about Dejounte as a player and as a person should tell you that he will use this play as motivation going forward.
DJ is a tireless worker, no one can question that. He certainly heard the critics talking about his less than threatening jump shot during his first two years in the league. So while he sat out his third season with a torn ACL he put in hour after hour improving his jumper. The results were a new and improved dangerous mid-range game to go along with a solid 38 percent accuracy rate from behind the arc.
Comparing a blown defensive play to a weak jump shot isn’t exactly apples to apples but the point is that Murray has consistently acknowledged areas where he can improve and then put in the work to get better in each and every one of them.
That’s a trait that you love to see in any player but especially in your 23-year-old franchise point guard. Trust that he’s going to remember this moment and won’t make the same mistake again.
It was a heartbreaking play but ultimately one that wasn’t the end of the world. The San Antonio Spurs still put together one of their best games of the bubble last night and you can bet that they’re going to come out motivated against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Don’t be surprised to see Murray hungrier than he’s ever been in this next contest.