BOSTON — Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray said “a lot” led to him making contact with and shouting at referee Gediminas Petraitis following his team’s Game 4 loss to the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
The incident led to a one-game suspension for Murray as the Hawks face elimination down 3-1 in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
“I’m a grown man, and I hold my own and I take full responsibility for not being able to play for my teammates, and the fans and just the organization as a whole,” Murray said Tuesday while addressing the suspension for the first time. “But at the end of the day, there’s a lot that led up to that, and I think a lot of players could relate to those frustrations.”
Much of Murray’s concerns stemmed from what he felt was lacking respect and accountability from Petraitis. Not only did Murray believe the official missed calls in Sunday’s game, but he thought it was far more difficult than it should have been to find middle ground with the referee on those calls.
Murray added his concerns weren’t limited to Game 4, either. Going back to when he played with the San Antonio Spurs before last summer’s trade to Atlanta, Murray believed he and Petraitis didn’t have the type of relationship he enjoys with other officials.
“A lot of ignoring, a lot of brushing me off, brushing my teammates off when asking questions of how we could be better,” Murray said. “And even just with that individual, it goes back to San Antonio, where, I don’t know why that person treated me the way he treated me over the years.
“And what I mean by treated me [is], I’m just a guy who likes to have conversation, especially with the referees. You ask 98 percent of the refs why they greet me before games, and they’ll tell you because I’m one of the most respectful ones. I don’t cry about calls, I don’t disrespect them, call them out their names, none of that.”
Late Monday, minutes after the Hawks checked into their hotel in Boston, the NBA suspended Murray one game without pay for making contact with and verbally abusing an official at the end of Sunday’s Game 4.
“At the end of the day, I feel like, I don’t think I should have been suspended,” Murray said. “But like I said, it’s out of my control.”
Just as the final buzzer sounded, Murray bumped Petraitis as he was walking off the court. Several steps later, Murray turned back and pointed and yelled at someone before exiting the court, following Boston’s 129-121 win.
Murray, who had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in 40 minutes, did not speak to reporters immediately after the game.
“To my teammates, it’s the same message it’s been whether I’m playing or not playing: just continue to do what they do, play the right way, listen to coach [Quin Snyder] because he has great plans,” Murray said at Tuesday’s shootaround. “Stay together. That’s been the word that we’ve been preaching all year. It’s consistency and staying together as a whole.”
Less than an hour after he learned of Murray’s suspension, Snyder told reporters Monday he and his assistants were still figuring out what they wanted to do in terms of replacing Murray in the lineup.
“Beating Boston in the Garden in the situation we’re in right now, we all know is a challenge in and of itself,” Snyder said Monday. “[But] it’s something the entire group has to absorb.”
It’s possible bench guard Bogdan Bogdanovic starts to provide the minutes Murray will miss.
Murray is averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals through four games in this series for the Hawks.
While still with the Spurs last season, Murray was fined $20,000 after he was ejected from a game in Memphis on Feb. 28, 2002, when he threw a ball off the legs of a referee.
Because of the suspension, Murray isn’t allowed to watch Tuesday’s game from inside TD Garden. During shootaround, he said he was still figuring out where he’d watch, but joked he wouldn’t be visiting any bars around the city.
“That was something that was not even a question, me traveling with the team and making sure they know I’m here, and even though I won’t be able to be on the bench to support them,” Murray said. “I still will give them support.”
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.
Dejounte Murray cites history with ref