After struggling through most of the season, New Orleans Hornets rookie guard Austin Rivers finally appears to be emerging as a more reliable contributor off the bench.
In 34 minutes Monday night against the Detroit Pistons, he committed just one turnover. In Sunday’s 102-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors, Rivers made four-of-six shots for nine points with only one turnover.
Rivers, the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Duke, still has gone 23 consecutive games without scoring in double figures, but he’s not forcing up as many shots or struggling to stay in front of shooters as he did earlier this season.
``I’ve just been playing with a lot more control,’’ Rivers said. ``That’s from learning and watching film. Practice, just going out and applying the same stuff I’m working on. Confident in myself and things been going the right way.’’
Earlier this season, it didn’t appear that Rivers had the quick burst off the dribble to get through opposing team’s defensive coverages. But several times Monday, Rivers didn’t have difficulty getting through the Pistons’ defensive coverages on drives to the basket.
One of the biggest turnarounds is that Rivers is finishing better around the rim and looking more to distribute when the opportunity arises.
After making 48 percent of his shots in the previous five games, Hornets Coach Monty Williams made Rivers a surprise starter against the Pistons in place of shooting guard Eric Gordon, who remains under strict restrictions to avoid playing the second game of back-to-back sets since returning from a patella disorder and bone bruise in his right knee that forced him to miss the first 29 games.
Rivers scored seven points in Monday's 105-86 victory against the Pistons and had a steal and two assists in 34 minutes.
``Austin is working his butt off, he’s been playing a little more solid basketball and we’re going to give him a shot,’’ Williams said. ``He works at it, he goes through ups and downs like most rookies, but he really works at it. He’s starting to understand how much we want him to succeed. He’ starting to find his niche, starting to drive to the basket and taking open shots and he’s getting better at weak side defense.’’
Hornets rookie guard Austin Rivers finally showing signs of improvement with All-Star break approaching
New Orleans Times-Picayune | Feb 12