In Chris Paul's first game back after sustaining a sprained left hamstring, he had some of the weight taken off of his load.
Backup point guard Austin Rivers had an incredible performance off the bench, scoring 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting in the Clippers' 124-99 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series.
Rivers alone scored the same amount of points as all of the Rockets' reserves combined.
"I just kept saying, 'I don't want to play anymore if I don't have to,'" Paul said. "And seeing him do that, it gave me a chance to rest."
Rivers scored 15 points in the third quarter on six-for-eight shooting, sparking a 20-3 run that turned a five-point lead into a 23-point advantage for the Clippers heading into the fourth quarter.
"Austin was unbelievable," said Paul, an eight-time All-Star. "I was probably his biggest cheerleader there in the third quarter."
Paul only played in 23 minutes of Game 3, finishing with 12 points on five-for-12 shooting and seven assists. It was his first game in one week, since he sustained the hamstring strain in the first quarter of Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs on May 2. Paul missed Games 1 and 2 against the Rockets because of the injury.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers called his son's performance 'huge,' saying it gave Paul a chance to slowly work his way back from his recent absence.
"I didn't care who went off," Rivers said. "I just knew it wasn't going to be CP tonight...The fact it was Austin was great, and it was needed. Tonight was really important for one of our guards to have that night because, again, it really allowed CP to ease into this."