Dejounte Murray finds silver lining in missed goal after Hawks win

Dejounte Murray found the silver lining after falling short of what he expected coming into this season after the Atlanta Hawks beat the Detroit Pistons.
Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray
Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dejounte Murray was clear about his expectations for the Atlanta Hawks coming into this season. Coming off an admittedly challenging campaign and a swift first-round exit from the playoffs, Murray was looking for a marked improvement. 

“Be better than last year,” Murray told reporters on October 2. “Establish an identity from jump, which I feel like we’re on the right road towards. … Good in chemistry in the locker room, outside of the facility and carry on to translate to the court. So be better than last year, and win and be a top-four seed. Being a Play-In team is not optional.”

The Hawks sit four games below .500 at 36-40 and are jockeying for position at the bottom of the Play-In Tournament race after their win over the Detroit Pistons on April 3.

"It's great, but obviously, I wanted to avoid the play-in as much as I can with just the winning mentality being a competitor,” Murray said, per’s Kevin Chouinard. “At the end of the day, it's still good to have a chance.

“So we continue to handle business the rest of the way and … get to that game – wherever we play, where we play – and just be ready to go.”

For his part, Murray has turned a career year as a shooter into one as an all-around point guard.

His 22.6 points per game and 36.6% clip from beyond the arc are new career highs. He has averaged 9.1 assists per game over the last 20 outings since Trae Young has been sidelined with a finger injury.

Murray is averaging 25.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals, shooting 37.3% from deep in that span.

The one-time All-Star has the third-best net rating among guards playing at least 37 minutes in that same window.

Jalen Johnson records 1st career triple-double in Hawks win

Third-year forward Jalen Johnson made a triumphant return home in his second game back from an ankle injury, logging a team-high 28 points with 14 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists for his first triple-double.

He also had four steals and one block, setting the tone early versus the Pistons.

“Just playing the game the right way, teammates hitting open shots,” Johnson said. “It felt good to finally get one. I've been close a couple times. … To end up getting one, it was pretty cool.”

The Hawks moved to 27-26 with Johnson in the lineup, 25-24 with him as a starter. They are still awaiting the return of Young as well as backup big man Onyeka Okongwu. If they can get healthy and continue their recent winning ways, they could be a tough out in the postseason.