Hawks in the NBA | March 6-19

Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray plays a large role in the team’s juggernaut offense.


Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 26, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) goes up for a basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second quarter at Paycom Center.

Colin Votzmeyer, Sports Reporter

The Sacramento Kings’ juggernaut offense is the motor pushing the team closer to ending the franchise’s playoff drought, and former Hawkeye forward Keegan Murray is a big reason why.

The Kings have not made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season — the longest an NBA franchise has gone without a postseason appearance. They now sit in second in the Western Conference with a 43-27 record. The biggest reason why is their offensive power. The team averages a league-high 121.1 points per game.

Although guard De’Aaron Fox and forward Domantas Sabonis command most of the attention behind the frontcourt play, Murray has made a name for himself too. On the March 13 episode of First Take, retired NBA big man Kendrick Perkins and ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith seemed to notice, giving the rookie high praise.

The last two weeks were an indication of that.

Murray opened the Kings’ 6-1 stretch with 13 points in the 123-108 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on March 16. He followed that with 11 points on 4-for-8 from the field with six rebounds in the 122-117 win over the New York Knicks on March 9.

Despite a 128-119 win against the Phoenix Suns on March 11, Murray hit his low point. He attempted three shots but did not score in 15 minutes of play, and his plus-minus of -16 was a team-low.

But persistence was key.

Murray slowly crawled back with seven points in a March 13 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, nine in a March 15 win over the Chicago Bulls, and 11 on 4-for-8 from the field in a win over the Brooklyn Nets the next night.

Murray finally found his groove again against the Washington Wizards on March 18, scoring 19 points on 7-for-15 from the field and 5-of-10 from three. He included five rebounds and two assists on the night. The Kings won, 132-118.

Murray is now tied with Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry for seventh place on the all-time list for 3-pointers made in a season by a rookie with 166.

Timberwolves center Luka Garza adhered to that same persistence. Despite spending much of the last two weeks in and out of the team’s rotation, he exploded for 14 points on 6-of-7 from the field and 1-of-2 from both deep and the charity stripe in a 136-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks on March 13.

G League

Garza makes the most of his time when he’s with the Timberwolves’ G League affiliate Iowa Wolves, as well.

He neared a double-double on March 9, notching 29 points on 13-for-22 from the field and nine rebounds in 38 minutes of play. He secured the achievement on March 11, scoring 23 points on 9-for-15 from the field and 13 rebounds, but his six turnovers helped the opposing Rio Grande Valley Vipers to a win.

Raptors guard Joe Wieskamp has seen minimal time on the NBA roster but has gotten much more playing time with the G-League Raptors 905.

He scored six, six, and five points in the team’s contests on March 6, 8, and 9, respectively. But in a narrow win over the Grand Rapids Gold on March 12, Wieskamp dropped in 21 points on 8-for-15 from the field, 3-for-7 from deep, and 1-for-1 from the free-throw line in 38 minutes on the court.

He finished the stretch with 13 points and nine rebounds against the Grand Rapids Gold on March 14, 18 points — including four threes — against the Lakeland Magic on March 16, and another 13 points on three threes in their rematch the next night.

Other Hawkeyes

Salt Lake City Stars center Tyler Cook

  • March 6 win over the Texas Legends: 16 points, six rebounds, eight assists
  • March 8 win over the Oklahoma City Blue: 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists
  • March 10 win over the Oklahoma City Blue: 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists
  • March 13 loss to the Stockton Kings: eight points, four rebounds, five assists, six turnovers
  • March 15 loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors: 18 points, nine rebounds, team-low plus-minus of -19
  • March 19 win over the South Bay Lakers: 23 points on 10-for-14 from the field, nine rebounds

Iowa Wolves guard Jordan Bohannon

  • March 9 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers: seven points on 2-for-2 from the field
  • March 11 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers: three points
  • March 13 loss to the Birmingham Squadron: started, 12 points, five rebounds
  • March 17 loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors: started, 12 points on 4-for-7 from the field
  • March 18 loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors: started, nine points on three threes, four assists
Facebook Comments