Austin Rivers steps up for Clippers' Game 4 victory with aggressive play

Austin Rivers becomes a playoff hero in the biggest game of his basketball career, scoring 16 points

He will no longer be known solely as the underachieving son of Doc Rivers and the subject of a viral video starring Blake Griffin.

Austin Rivers became a playoff hero Sunday afternoon in the biggest game of his basketball career.

The Clippers guard gave his team the kind of long-sought-after jolt it needed from its bench during a potentially pivotal 114-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center in Game 4 of their first-round series.

"I thought he was the guy that really changed the game for us," Griffin said.

Rivers scored five of his 16 points early in the fourth quarter, including a driving layup around Spurs power forward Tim Duncan that went for a three-point play after Duncan fouled Rivers.

Duncan seemed surprised by a performance in which Rivers made seven of eight shots.

"We did game-plan for him," Duncan said, "but not for him to make the shots that he did."

Rivers credited his aggressive mind-set to Griffin and teammate Chris Paul. Griffin told Rivers in the locker room after the Clippers' Game 3 loss that he should use his speed and quickness to make plays. Paul then wrapped an arm around Rivers in the first half Sunday and told his teammate he believed in him.

"That just put a lot of confidence in me," Rivers said. "Chris Paul believes in me. I know I can do it. I believe in myself."

There didn't seem to be much trust in basketball circles that the Clippers made a smart move in January, when they traded for Coach Doc Rivers' son. Austin had wildly disappointed in his first 2 1/2 NBA seasons after being selected 10th overall in the 2012 draft.

His numbers with the Clippers in the final 41 games of the regular season were close to his career averages of 7.0 points and 2.1 assists, though his 42.7% shooting did represent a significant uptick from his career 39.7% accuracy.

Griffin lampooned Rivers' tendency to drive into the lane for wild floaters during a practice session in March, the accompanying video becoming an Internet sensation.

But there was Rivers on Sunday, making shot after shot in a game the Clippers had to win to realistically have a shot at winning this series. His father said he was most pleased with his son's work on the other side of the ball, where he hounded the Spurs' perimeter players.

"His offense was good, but it was his defense that I thought, to be able to put him on multiple guys, I thought, was huge for us," Doc Rivers said.

Father and son did not share a special moment afterward.

"Naw, man," Austin Rivers said. "We didn't win a championship."

The younger Rivers did acknowledge that his performance was more enjoyable than his buzzer-beating jumper to defeat rival North Carolina when he played for Duke.

"This is something I know I can do," Rivers said. "It wasn't a surprise for me. Obviously it is to you guys, but I've been working so hard, and this team has been working so hard. We expect this."

Injury report

Clippers forward Matt Barnes has a sore right shoulder but is listed as probable for Game 5 on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Griffin said he was fine after teammate DeAndre Jordan kicked him in the shoulder late in the game and Griffin had to inbound the ball with one hand.

"That's the problem with him jumping so high," Griffin said of Jordan.

Mystery solved

Griffin said the Mason jars he has brought with him to every postgame media conference contained a homemade protein shake "with juices and berries and things like that" devised by a chef-nutritionist.

"Monica," Griffin said. "Shout-out, Monica."

Twitter: @latbbolch

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