Mur­ray nets rookie hon­ors

Guard led Western Con­fer­ence first-year play­ers for the month

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey Christo­pher Dempsey: cdempsey@den­ver­post.com or @chrisadempsey

A sea­son that started with trep­i­da­tion ended with one big award for Nuggets rookie Ja­mal Mur­ray. He was named Western Con­fer­ence rookie of the month for the last part of Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

“Just to see how Ja­mal has re­sponded to ad­ver­sity, to come back and play at the level he’s played,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “The big­gest growth I’ve seen is just his men­tal tough­ness, his poise in han­dling ad­ver­sity and just the self-con­fi­dence he has. He’s not afraid of the mo­ment. ”

Mur­ray, who the Nuggets se­lected seventh in the draft, led all Western Con­fer­ence rook­ies in scor­ing at 10.4 points per game. He added 2.8 re­bounds and 2.1 as­sists. But it was his work af­ter the sea­son-open­ing shoot­ing slump, when he went 0-for-16 in his first four games, that stood out.

Since Nov. 6, Mur­ray is shoot­ing 46.3 per­cent from the 3-point line and 43.8 from the field over­all. He has scored 18 or more points in four of his last six games, and has be­come a key player off the bench, play­ing more than 20 min­utes a game.

“The fact that we had guys out, there’s al­ways a sil­ver lin­ing,” Malone said. “You don’t want to lose Gary (Har­ris), you don’t want to lose Will (Bar­ton) to in­juries. But within that the pos­i­tive that comes is Ja­mal Mur­ray is not only given an op­por­tu­nity but takes full ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity given to him.”

Mur­ray is the fourth Nuggets player to win the award, and the first since Ken­neth Faried in April 2012.

“We don’t win the Chicago game with­out Ja­mal Mur­ray, which is one

HOUS­TON AT DEN­VER

of our best wins of the year,” Malone said. “He’s con­tin­u­ing to work on his game, his body, his strength and he knows he has to be a more con­sis­tent de­fender for us. But I’m just so happy for the kid be­cause he puts a lot of time in and he stands for ev­ery­thing that we’re try­ing to be about – a work team, a trust team, a self­less team.

Philadel­phia’s Joel Em­biid was named Eastern Con­fer­ence rookie of the month.

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