The Atlanta Hawks (24-29) had to put their foot on the gas down the stretch to come away with a 122-113 victory over the Houston Rockets. They got a closing surge from Dejounte Murray, who scored 10 of his 34 points in the final frame, adding seven assists and six rebounds.
After the game, Murray was asked about maintaining composure as Rockets swingman Dillon Brooks, a known agitator, tried baiting the Hawks into some sort of altercation.
“Maturity,” Murray told reporters on February 10. “You got to give credit to him for what he does. He plays tremendously hard every single night. I'm a fan just knowing him from him in college and just seeing his career, and just doing what he does. That's what he does and you just got to be mature about it.”
Brooks has simultaneously lamented and embraced his “Dillon the Villain” moniker.
It’s not the first time he has tried to goad the Hawks into something. He also tried it during the two teams’ previous meeting in December.
“I'm not afraid to let guys be physical with me. But I'm also smart enough to know I'm going to let that physicality be used to my advantage too,” Young said via the team. “I ain't got time to play around with you. That's what he does on defense, and I got a job to do on both ends. So it's a little bit different in our roles.”
The Hawks swept the two-game season series with this win.
Dejounte Murray gets honest about Kobe Bufkin's 1st rotation minutes
The Hawks were without De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela in the latest win, leading to the first rotation minutes of rookie Kobe Bufkin’s career. The No. 15 overall pick in the 2024 draft, it was his fourth overall appearance of the season.
It was his first time as part of the rotation, though. How did Murray – who reached out to Bufkin when the latter arrived in Atlanta following the draft – think the youngster fared?
“Great for his development,” Murray said.
“It's going to take time, it's going to be a long journey – ups and downs. And repetition is a great thing in this league, whether it's in the G League or he's up here with us and he's able to get some live action. And I think G League's meaningful minutes as well as here. You’re trying to win no matter what anytime you step out on the floor.”
Bufkin had been tearing it up in the G League before getting this opportunity. He is averaging 23.6 points, 5.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals while shooting 35.6% from downtown for the College Park Skyhawks.
“It was great for him,” Murray said of Bukin’s rotation minutes. “He was confident, got some shots up and talking, communicating, trying to play defense.”
Bufkin finished the game with three points and three rebounds.