Murray's career night fuels Kings' dominant win vs. Rockets


That's one way to break out of a slump.

Keegan Murray broke out of his slump in a big way in Sacramento's 140-120 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday at Toyota Center. 

"Yeah, it was good," Murray told Kyle Draper and Kenny Thomas on "Kings Postgame Live." "I struggled the last couple games. It feels good to finally get one, see some shots fall and things like that, so it was a good team win."

Entering Monday's matchup with the rebuilding Rockets (13-41), the Kings (30-23) rookie averaged 5.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists, shooting 24.4 percent from the field, 20 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent from the free-throw line in his last five games. 

Against the Rockets, Murray went off for a career-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, including 8-of-12 3-pointers, also a career-high. The 22-year-old grabbed six rebounds, two steals and one assist in his all-around performance in Houston.

Murray's previous career high in points was 29, which he scored against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 20. On 3-pointers, the rookie's previous high was six, hitting that mark twice on Dec. 9 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and on Dec. 21 against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

He is also the first rookie in the 2022-23 NBA season to hit eight or more 3s in a game.

"I know that I put in the work, so you're going to have nights like that," Murray continued. "A shooter is going to miss shots; even the best shooters miss shots.

"So you're going to have games like that and I just try to stay consistent in my mindset, know that eventually, I'll be able to hit shots and I did that tonight."

Whether it was hitting outside shots or attacking the paint, Murray seemingly had an answer for the Rockets' counters. 

And on the night that De'Aaron Fox returned for the Kings after a two-game absence to celebrate the birth of his child, it was Murray's night to shine. Malik Monk noticed that Murray played with more faith in his game, which led to his offensive explosion. 

"Oh man, it was great, finally great to see him hit some shots," Monk told reporters postgame. "He's been in a slump a little bit, down on himself. 

"We just kept giving confidence and I'm just happy to see it pay off."

Trey Lyles, Murray's veteran teammate, echoed Monk's comments, jokingly saying that it was nice to see the usually stoic rookie "smile" a little bit on his career night.

"He had been going through a slump -- everybody does it -- but just staying confident in himself and, of course, we're going to be confident in him and w know what he's capable of doing and he did that tonight. 

"So we just got to keep lifting him up and give him positive feedback."

It wasn't just Murray that did the damage against the Rockets: Monk (20), All-Star Domantas Sabonis (17), Kevin Huerter (16), Fox (16) and Lyles (14) all scored in double figures for the Kings. 

Kings coach Mike Brown appreciated Murray's production against the Rockets and how the team competed after two tough back-to-back losses, including a 32-point blowout to the New Orleans Pelicans the night before. 

"Obviously, we made shots tonight; Keegan had a heck of a game shooting the basketball, also with six rebounds," Brown told reporters postgame. "That was fun to see him break out of his little mini-slump.

Sacramento notched its 30th win of the season in beating Houston. Last season, the Kings won 30 games, finishing with a 30-52 record, eventually landing Murray with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. 

With the 2023 NBA All-Star Break coming in just over a week, Murray said he will maintain the mindset he's had all season as the Kings look to end their 16-year playoff drought in the next few months.

"Just stay consistent," Murray added. "Everything I've done on this road trip, I've just tried to be consistent. You're going to go through some ups and downs, especially as a rookie. 

"So just be consistent with my work, every single day and I know it will pay off."

RELATED: Murray earns consecutive Rookie of the Month honors in West

After a less-than-stellar start to February, Murray certainly is picking up his play at the right time. 

Kings fans are hopeful to see more performances like Monday night after the All-Star Break from a rejuvenized Murray, the Western Conference's back-to-back Rookie of the Month

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