Note: this post has been updated since its original posting.
In a release, the NBA said Murray was suspended for “making inappropriate contact with and verbally abusing a game official” during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round series. He will serve the suspension for Game 5 on Tuesday.
Murray, who finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists on Sunday, got in the face of referee Gediminas Petraitis after the final buzzer sounded and appeared to make contact with him as he left the floor. Murray then turned around and pointed and yelled at something behind him, needing to be guided off the court by a teammate and staff member.
Dejounte Murray appeared to say something to a ref after the Hawks’ Game 4 loss.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 24, 2023
According to NBA rules, “any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game.” The rules also allow for a fine or longer suspension “if circumstances so dictate.” The NBA’s decision to suspend Murray was likely due to the fact that they believe his contact with the referee was intentional.
The league has a history of taking action when players make contact with referees. Back in October, Celtics forward Grant Williams was suspended for a game for making contact with a referee when he was ejected during a loss to the Chicago Bulls. Last season, Murray himself was fined $20,000 for throwing the ball off the legs of a referee, leading to an ejection in a loss to the Grizzlies.
This season, the 26-year-old Murray is averaging 20.5 points, 6.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. It’s his first year with the Hawks after being acquired this offseason in a trade with the Spurs, where he previously spent six seasons.
The Celtics lead the series 3-1, so Game 5 is a must-win game for Atlanta. They’ll have to do it without Murray, who is averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals in the series.
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