Austin Rivers had a 41-point career-performance in the victory over the Kings
Austin Rivers had a career-high 41-point performance in the Houston Rockets’ 129–112 win on Sunday over the Sacramento Kings and he feels like he proved himself as a player.
One week ago he had cited during a podcast that he thinks of himself as ‘’one of the best guard defenders in the NBA’’ and took pride on that. Well, yesterday he displayed his abilities on the other side of the court and it was a magic night for him.
“You continue to tell yourself, ‘You can do this, you can do this, you can do this, you can do this,’ for nights like this,” said Rivers. “I believe I’m a premier scorer.’’
“That’s just how I feel, but I’m on a team where that’s not required of me every night. I play with the best scorer in the NBA, and I play with the other one of the best scorers in the NBA, in Russell Westbrook and James Harden. So you’ve got to play a role and buy in. That’s what winning basketball is, and that’s what I’m a part of, so that’s what I do. But make no mistake, I know I can score the ball. When you get in that zone, there’s nothing better than that. It’s just different. Man, it was a fun, fun night.”
We are referring to a point guard who was averaging 8.4 points per game, but due to the absence of Russell Westbrook (thigh contusion) he was given more minutes and he definitely capitalized on the opportunity and along with James Harden, who had 32 points, both aided the team to beat the Kings and ascend higher in the standings (4th seed in the Western Conference) with a handful of games remaining before the playoffs.
In last night’s game he was excellent in terms of his shooting efficiency, making 14 of his total 20 attempts from the field, knocking down six three-pointers out of eleven shots, grabbing six rebounds and dishing the ball four times - and all the above in 33 minutes.
“He was just in attack mode,” said Harden, who had 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. “He’s been going in the morning to the gym, shooting and working on his jump shot, so that kind of gave him his confidence. Obviously with no Russ and no Eric, he needed to be a little bit more aggressive. He did that.”
He is fully aware of how good he is as a player and regardless of what people say about him, he thinks of himself as an elite scorer who can play against anybody and win. That’s the right mentality that a player must have — he must be relentless and focus on getting better individually and never stop being hungry for more improvement and better results.
“I know that sounds funny, but that’s just the way you have to feel,” Rivers said. “Whether you’re 0-for-6 or 6-for-6, 8-for-8, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think you get to this level by thinking that someone can guard you individually. I’m obviously a one-on-one player. I always feel like I have a chance to score on anybody. Whether people see that or not, that’s on them, but I know how I feel.”
His teammates were loudly rooting for him the whole time and encouraged him to do more, to score more and he did. Being aware of his last time he notched up over 30 points - it was back on December 23, 2017 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Clippers and in a game with the Memphis Grizzlies, he had scored 38 points (which was his previous career-high) despite the fact that it was in a loss — he wanted to exceed his career-high, pushed himself and accomplished it, this time in a win.
“I was gonna go get it,” Rivers said. “But I still wanted to do it still the right way. I didn’t want to just come down and jack anything. I jacked a couple of shots, but this is why it’s fun to play on this team. You’ve got guys encouraging it. They were giving me the ball. It’s not like I was chasing it, taking it. You had guys aware of this, and it was the last couple of minutes of the game. The whole game was natural, just flowing. That’s the best way to have a night like tonight.”
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