Pelicans' Trey Murphy pays tribute to Virginia shooting victims

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Pelicans forward Trey Murphy stopped his post-game news conference Wednesday night to say he was dedicating his past two games to the three Virginia football players who were shot and killed earlier this week.

Lavel Davis, Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry were killed in the shooting Sunday night on a charter bus after students returned to campus from a field trip in Washington, D.C.

Murphy, who is in his second year with the Pelicans, played his junior season at Virginia in 2019-20. He said that Davis "was a good friend of mine."

"I was really sad to see him go," Murphy said. "He was a really special guy. So please keep their families in your prayers. I'd appreciate that."

On Monday morning, after news of the shooting broke, Murphy tweeted, "Pray for your friends at UVA. Check on your friends at UVA."

Murphy's words Wednesday came after one of the best performances of his young NBA career. After scoring 13 points in Tuesday night's win over the Memphis Grizzlies, he finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double in a 124-110 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Murphy thought he had his double-double locked up in the third quarter when he tapped out a rebound that Larry Nance Jr. controlled, but an official scorer's change gave the board to Nance. Murphy checked back in late in the game and stole a rebound from center Willy Hernangomez to make sure No. 10 was his.

When asked if he apologized for stealing Hernangomez's rebound, Murphy leaned directly into the podium microphone and said, "Absolutely not. And I'll steal it again."

Murphy started his second consecutive game for the Pelicans on Wednesday with Zion Williamson missing games because of a right foot contusion. He was 5-of-6 on 3-pointers, including one from 34 feet.

Murphy also tied a career high with three steals and had a block that led to a dunk over Bulls center Nikola Vucevic.

"He's just been getting better and better," Pelicans coach Willie Green said. "He's locked in, he's focused. Defensively he's flying around, blocking shots and rebounding the ball. And the ball finds energy. We know Trey can shoot the ball. He can shoot the cover off of it. When guys get into the paint, guys are looking for him and he's getting to the right spots."

The Pelicans improved to 9-6 with the win moving to three games over .500 for the first time since Nov. 19, 2018 -- a span of 303 games. Since then, every other team had been at least three games over .500 at some point.