The Atlanta Hawks started the season off on the right foot with a 117-107 victory over the young and feisty Houston Rockets who happen to feature the No. 2 and No. 3 overall pick in the last two drafts, respectively. It was a game that allowed the Hawks to show off all that they had teased over the summer and during the preseason.
All four finished the game with at least 20 points and combined to shoot 50% from the floor overall.
But it wasn’t good enough according to Murray.
Dejounte Murray holding Atlanta Hawks teammates to higher standards
The game featured six lead changes and five ties but the Hawks never trailed after taking a 41-39 lead on a Collins triple. Interestingly, the highly-potent Hawks trio shot an abysmal 5-for-19 from outside. As a team, the Hawks went just 7-for-25 while Houston went 9-for-35 themselves.
Despite the win, and the Rockets’ lack of efficiency, Murray kept the pressure up in the locker room.
Murray, who said he holds himself to a “higher standard” and was dissatisfied with some of his defense, was also asked how he felt about the Rockets trying to dunk a lot. He was as doggish in his response as we’ve come to expect.
“I don’t care about highlights, we won the game,” Murray told reporters after the game.
According to the team, Murray became the first Hawks player since Spud Webb in 1985 to record a point/assist double-double in their debut.
Murray’s sentiments towards the actual performance rather than the result fits with his earlier assertion that there are no individual agendas – his only focus is helping Young and Co. bring a championship to Atlanta.
“I ain’t come to Atlanta to party. Don’t invite me to Nathen. I WANNA WINNNNNNNNNN GAMES!!!!!!!!!,” Murray posted on Instagram in September.
For as impressive as the Hawks looked, they did only manage a 10-point victory.
And that came after seeing their nine-point halftime lead cut down to as small as three points in the third quarter.
Houston is loaded with talent but young and inexperienced whereas the Hawks are looking to regain their Eastern Conference Finals form of two years ago. No win is easy – they split with the Rockets last season when they were arguably worse after all. But the Hawks certainly have plenty of room for improvement after what was still an impressive win.