The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hawks in the NBA | March 18-24

Keegan Murray’s play directly correlated with the outcome of all four the Kings’ games last week.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) in the second quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray’s play was directly related to the outcome of all four games last week. 

The Kings went 3-1 last week and currently sit in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings with a 41-29 record, tied with the eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks and half-a-game behind the sixth-seeded Phoenix Suns. The second-year forward averaged a plus-minus of 22 through the three wins. 

The first game of the week took place on Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies in Sacramento, where Murray logged a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double. He also had three assists and two steals on 6-of-17 shooting from the field, 2-of-8 from deep, and 1-of-4 from the line in 42 minutes in the 121-111 win. 

Wednesday’s road matchup against the Toronto Raptors saw Sacramento come out on top with the 123-89 blowout win. Murray furnished a solid all-around performance of 10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, one assist, and one steal while shooting 5-of-12 from the field but failing to convert any of his five three-point shots. Though his scoring wasn’t up to par in this game, his game-high plus-minus of 33 in just 31 minutes once again shows the value he provides in multiple areas in the game, especially on the defensive side. 

The one loss the Kings suffered last week came in the hands of the Washington Wizards on Thursday. The second-year forward finished the game with 16 points, two rebounds, two blocks, and one assist on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three in the 109-102 loss. His -21 plus-minus was the only negative double-digit plus-minus on the team in arguably his worst impactful game of the season. 

Murray bounced back nicely by leading the team with a 21 plus-minus in Saturday’s 109-107 crunchtime win over the Orlando Magic. Murray had his best scoring game of the week, logging 22 points while shooting 8-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-7 from deep. He also logged seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks to help his team pull out the much-needed victory. 

The second-year forward is averaging 14.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game on 46.1/35.8/82.4 shooting splits over 65 games so far this season. To put these numbers in perspective, he upped his scoring, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goals, and free throw averages, but his three-point percentage is down over five percent. Regardless, he’s still one of the better spot-up shooters in the league. 

Kris Murray

The 19-52 Portland Trail Blazers dropped all four games last week, though it doesn’t change anything as they’ve already been eliminated from the postseason. 

But first-year forward Kris Murray had himself a good week individually, putting his development as an all-around player on display.

The first game of the week came on Monday against the Chicago Bulls, where Kris Murray played 27 minutes and logged 10 points, two steals, one assist, and one block on 5-of-9 shooting from the field in the 110-107 road loss. 

Kris Murray recorded two of the best games of his young career in back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Clippers at home. The first of the two saw Murray finish with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal while shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from three in 33 minutes of play in Wednesday’s 116-103 loss. 

The Clippers seemingly couldn’t contain the 23-year-old rookie, who followed up Wednesday’s strong performance with an even better outing in Friday’s 125-117 loss. In 36 minutes, Kris Murray logged 21 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor, 3-of-6 from three, and 2-of-3 from the line.

The last game of the week came against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Kris Murray recorded 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block while shooting 5-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-6 from deep in 39 minutes of play in the 114-111 crunchtime loss. 

The first-year forward is averaging 5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game on 41.8/27.8/61 shooting splits over 51 games so far this season – a lot of room to improve one of Portnald’s many young players.  

Luka Garza

Though Luka Garza was expected to get consistent playing time after the Karl-Anthony Towns injury, it seems as if he’s still not a lineup lock, playing in only two of the four games for the Minnesota Timberwolves last week.

Despite bringing versatility along with size on offense, the third-year center’s lack of consistent minutes most likely has to do with his underwhelming defense. The two games he did play in happened to be back-to-back against the Utah Jazz on Monday and the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. 

Garza played 11 minutes and logged eight points and one rebound on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three in the 114-104 win over the Jazz. However, his plus-minus of -13 was by far the lowest on the team, again most likely due to his defense. 

Tuesday’s matchup against the Nuggets saw Garza log 22 minutes and record 11 points, six rebounds, two steals, and one block while shooting 4-of-11 from the floor, 2-of-8 from deep, and 1-of-2 from the line in the 115-112 loss. 

In just 18 games this season, Garza is averaging 3.9 points and 1.3 rebounds on 43.6/32.1/72.2 shooting splits on an average of 5.4 minutes per game this season. 

Minnesota grabbed the 104-91 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and the 114-110 win against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday in the two games Garza didn’t see any time on the floor. The 49-22 Timberwolves sit in third in the Western Conference standings – half a game behind the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and one game behind the first-seeded Nuggets. 

Joe Wieskamp

The G-League’s Maine Celtics played just one game last week, grabbing the 122-118 win over the Westchester Knicks on Thursday. 

Third-year forward Joe Wieskamp logged 30 minutes of play and furnished 10 points, seven assists, and four rebounds on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. He was the only player between both teams to finish the game with a positive double-digit plus-minus with 17. 

In 28 total games in the G-League this season, Wieskamp is averaging 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1 steal, and 0.8 blocks per game on 49.8/34.9/69.4 shooting splits. 

The 57-14 Boston Celtics have won nine straight games and have a double-digit lead in the Eastern Conference standings over the second-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and seven games ahead of the Denver Nuggets of the West.

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About the Contributor
Chris Meglio
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.