From the opening tip, it felt as though something was off. The Atlanta Hawks trailed the Houston Rockets from the opening possession falling behind by as many as 10 points only to cut the deficit to five points after the first frame. They would go on to build a lead as large as 16 points but let a young Rockets team get inspired and rally, taking the game 128-122.
The Hawks are now fifth in the East and have gone .500 in their last 10 games.
But it was the antics of the latter that led to a dustup during the third quarter which came back to haunt the Hawks as they let the (now) 4-14 Rockets outscore them 34-18 in the fourth quarter and, in their estimation, serve up a slice of humble pie.
Houston Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. called out Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray
“(There) was a little disrespect going on on their side,” Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. said of what led to the dustup that led to two sets of double-technical fouls being called via Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle, “so just wanted to check them on it and do some straightening.”
Murray can be seen doing the popular “too little” gesture as the two sides are bumping heads and as he walks away.
Murray went viral over the summer for showing his opponents up during an impressive run on the pro-am circuit. He bounced a ball off an opponent’s head and even got into it with Magic rookie and No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero.
The fire Murray showed then was and is a welcomed part of what he brings to this team.
But it got the best of the Hawks tonight as they let up on a team they have now split the two-game series with for the second year in a row.
Smith hit a three for the first bucket of the game and finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal while canning five of his 11 looks from deep. His teammate – second-year guard and former second-overall pick, Jalen Green – could be seen walking off the court cursing at the Hawks bench during a timeout.
Green had 30 points, five assists, and five boards.
Murray has been a revelation for the Hawks this season with his play and his attitude. If anything, this will serve as motivation for a Hawks team still establishing its identity.
But they will have to wait until next season to exact revenge for the “straightening” they endured in this one.