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Austin Rivers is back and ready to contribute to Clippers’ playoff push

Austin Rivers, left, talking to his father, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, is back in form after sitting out 18 games because of an ankle injury.
(Chris Szagola / Associated Press)

Austin Rivers had gone down in a heap, the pain registering on his face because his injured right ankle throbbed to the degree that he had to be carried off the Staples Center court by his Clippers teammates and a medical staff member.

Rivers had suffered the injury Dec. 29 against the Lakers, forcing the guard to miss almost six weeks of playing time, his body taking time to recover.

He went through the arduous process of rehabbing the ankle, finally returning Friday night against the Detroit Pistons.

“Yeah, man, it has been 18 games. That’s the most games I’ve ever missed,” Rivers said. “It was new for me. I had to take that rehab process more seriously. But I feel great, though. I feel good.

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“I’ve been conditioning so hard that I wasn’t even tired out there. I thought I was going to have an early wind where I was going to be exhausted, but I wasn’t tired at all.”

In his first two games back, Rivers is working to get his game back on track.

He had 10 points on four-for-14 shooting and five assists against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night, and 16 points and five assists against the Pistons on Friday night.

Rivers then explained the mechanics of his injury.

“I had post interior ankle impingement,” Rivers said. “So I just had some swelling that was causing impingement in my joints. They just had to inject some like anti-inflammatory stuff to let it go down. I’m good to go now.”

Rivers worked hard with the Clippers medical personnel to return.

He worked hard with the coaching staff to get his game and condition right.

“Once the swelling went down, there was nothing really to be cautious about,” Rivers said. “It was just about me getting my wind and getting my strength back. When you’re used to going like this all the time and you take a month off, you got to get your body right again. They’ve done a great job of getting me back and me feeling good.”

Now Rivers wants to play his role in helping the Clippers reach the playoffs.

They have 28 regular-season games left, and each is as important as the other.

“We can’t drop any games,” Rivers said. “There’s not that many games left. We don’t have that much room to where if we’re going to make the playoffs, we’ve got to start winning these games, especially the must-wins. So, we’ve got to take every game seriously.”

Etc.

Milos Teodosic missed his second straight game with a sore right foot.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner


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