Dejounte Murray shines in the Hawks’ debut at the NBA Games in Abu Dhabi

It’s hard to imagine a better Hawks debut for Dejounte Murray than the one he had in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The 26-year-old donned a Hawks jersey for the first time and had 25 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks as he guided the Hawks to a 123-113 win in the first of two preseason games with Milwaukee constituting the NBA. Abu Dhabi 2022 Games.

Fellow point guard Trae Young finished with 22 points and 3 assists while coming together in near-perfect fashion. The benefit of having two creators on the ball paid some early dividends for the Hawks. With Trae and Dejounte in the fold, the Hawks don’t always have to attack the opposing team’s best perimeter defender, a fact coach Nate McMillan alluded to in his postgame comments.

“We want to try to take advantage of the defense,” McMillan said. “(Dejounte and Trae) did a good job of getting the ball into the hands of a defender that we could take advantage of. Playing with the ball, playing without it, I thought it was a really good flow from our guards tonight. With the amount of guys we had running the basketball tonight, and only having eight turnovers, that’s a good sign.”

McMillan had some concerns on the other side of the ball. While Clint Capela played well in taking on the task of guarding two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (Capela forced all three of Antetokounmpo’s turnovers on a steal and two carries drawn), McMillan wanted more from his perimeter players in terms of rebounding and defense. aid in Antetokounmpo. (19 points, 6-16 FG).

“We weren’t tight enough in our spaces and we let (Giannis) play in our paint. We have to do a better job of keeping our body in front of the basketball,” McMillan said. “Our guards know they have to be better this season helping our greats get the basketball back.”

De’Andre Hunter had 17 points and 7 rebounds. Aaron Holiday and John Collins each scored 16 while also teaming up for a matte alley-oop soaring.

“I feel like we’ve been able to put a lot of things together so far in the preseason,” Collins said of playing with Dejounte. “I love (having) another leader out there, another guy that can find guys and grab rebounds. He’s going to play hoops and he’s going to play hard.”

The Hawks only shot 7-for-22 on their 3-point attempts (31.8 percent), but they made up for it with how well they executed their offense with new faces in new roles. McMillan said Dejounte has a good intuition for finding that balance.

“He has a great sense of the game,” McMillan said of Dejounte. “He can certainly play with the ball, but he understands his teammates getting involved. He was starting most of the offense tonight, passing the ball to Trae, De’Andre and John, as well as taking his opportunity when he felt he had the opportunity”. pairing. I think he’s going to get better because of the basketball IQ of him.”

The Hawks and Bucks play again and wrap up their trip abroad on Saturday. Expect some new faces on that one.

“We’ll get more youngsters to play in the second game,” McMillan said. “Some of our younger guys that didn’t play tonight, we’ll put them in the rotation.”

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