Dejounte Murray sinks Celtics with 44 points on 44 shots, including game-winner: 'Kobe would be proud'

It wasn't efficient.

But Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray sunk the Boston Celtics Thursday night with a 44-point effort, including the game-winner in the final second of overtime to secure the 123-122 victory. The shot matched his field-goal tally with his point total as he needed 44 field-goal attempts to reach the lofty number.

Atlanta started its final possession trailing 122-121 after Jaylen Brown secured the Celtics lead with a jumper on the other end. Murray took the inbounds pass at halfcourt and faced one-on-one coverage from five-time All-Defensive Team guard Jrue Holiday.

He dribbled to the top of the key then pulled up for a jumper with Holiday's hand in his face. The go-ahead bucket sank through the net with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock.

The shot marked a career high for Murray, who's taken over as Atlanta's lead option with Trae Young sidelined by a finger injury. The Hawks improved to 34-39 to pull within one game of the Chicago Bulls for ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Murray's 44 shot attempts were the seventh-most in an NBA game since 1984 and the most since Russell Westbrook attempted 44 shots in 2016.

Murray finished the game with 44 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. He shot 18 of 44 from the floor including 6 of 19 from 3-point range. He hit both of his free throws. He scored all 11 of Atlanta's overtime points.

Dejounte Murray hits a game-winner over five-time All-Defensive team guard Jrue Holiday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Dejounte Murray hits a game-winner over five-time All-Defensive team guard Jrue Holiday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

'Kobe would be proud'

Murray said after the game that he'd preferred to have taken fewer shots, but that the late Kobe Bryant would be proud.

"I still feel like I played awful," Murray said. "I don't want to take that many shots. But I know Kobe would be proud of me."

Murray keeps cooking

Since Young went down with a finger injury on Feb. 23, Murray has averaged 28.1 points per game to raise his already career-high scoring average to 22.4. He's now eclipsed 44 points in three of those 17 games since Young's injury. He's scored 28 points or more in four of his past five games.

The Hawks have gone 10-7 in that stretch as they fight to remain in the NBA play-in. Barring a collapse, they'll make it, with Thursday's win increasing their cushion over the 11th-place Brooklyn Nets to six games in the standings. Young, meanwhile, doesn't have a timeline to return. The Hawks are hopeful he can be back in time for the play-in.

The loss didn't matter much to the Celtics. They have the best record in the NBA at 57-16 and have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.