Austin Rivers has strong game against his former team amid cool reception
Austin Rivers figured there wouldn’t be a tribute video. Teams don’t normally produce such things for backup point guards who leave after 2 1/2 unremarkable seasons.
But the reception the newest Clipper received Friday night when he entered the game against his former team might have made him wonder whether he played here at all.
There was no introduction from the New Orleans Pelicans announcer inside the Smoothie King Center and no audible reaction from fans until a few booed Rivers late in the first quarter when he made a layup.
Rivers went on to compile another strong game amid an otherwise unhappy homecoming, finishing with 10 points on four-for-eight shooting to go with one assist in 14 minutes during the Clippers’ 108-103 loss.
“We wanted to win,” Rivers said. “It wasn’t really about me tonight.”
Rivers said earlier in the day that he wasn’t nervous about facing the team that traded him to the Boston Celtics earlier this month in a move that preceded his acquisition by the Clippers.
“I can’t tell you why, but I have no nerves about it at all,” Rivers said before his team’s shoot-around. “I just see it as really another game. I don’t know why. No extra emotions.”
Rivers stayed at the team hotel even though he still retains a residence here, saying he had already moved his belongings to Southern California.
New Orleans Coach Monty Williams joked that Rivers “married up” by leaving him to play for a veteran team and Coach Doc Rivers, Austin’s father. Williams also took responsibility for the younger Rivers never fulfilling the promise that prompted the Pelicans to draft him 10th overall out of Duke in 2012.
“What he wasn’t able to do, that falls in my lap, and that’s not something I take lightly,” Williams said. “If there were any failures or anything that didn’t happen to help progress in his career, that was my fault.”
Doc Rivers said playing alongside veterans such as Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford could accelerate the development of his son, who is 22.
“They can tell you the truth and you can actually believe it, and they actually know what they’re talking about,” Rivers said. “More than that, you actually see how they prepare. You see professionalism every day, and I don’t think that can hurt any young player.”
Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick returned from a one-game absence triggered by back spasms, scoring eight of his 12 points in the first quarter.
Redick said he had been injured on the final play of the Clippers’ victory over Denver on Monday during a collision with Nuggets guard Ty Lawson. Redick said his back has felt better every day since then.
CLIPPERS VS. SPURS
When: 6 p.m. PST, Saturday.
Where: AT&T Center.
On the air: TV: ESPN, Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.
Records: Clippers 32-14 before Friday; Spurs 30-17.
Record vs. Spurs: 0-2.
Update: The Spurs have won seven of eight games to climb into more familiar territory in the Western Conference standings. They also have defeated the Clippers four consecutive times on their home court, last losing to them there in November 2012.
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