Rivers family won't clash tonight in New Orleans

Rivers family won't clash tonight in New Orleans
March 20, 2013, 1:30 pm
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NEW ORLEANS — The check came and New Orleans Hornets rookie Austin Rivers did what most sons do when they go out to dinner with their father -- he got up and was ready to leave.

Not so fast!

Austin's dad, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, was not about to let his son off the hook this time.

"The bill came and I got up and was like, 'Alright, you know what to do,' " Austin recalled. 'He (Doc) looked at me like, 'Nah, it's your turn now.' "

Said Doc Rivers: "It's about time. It's probably the first time in his life, with me, that's for sure. I tried to order the most expensive wine . . . it was a good night."

It will certainly be easier for father and son tonight emotionally since Austin's broken right hand injury will keep him sidelined and thus Doc won't have to game plan against his son.

While not playing is certainly not what Austin or his dad would prefer, both agree that the injury can't take away from the growth he has made in recent weeks after a rocky NBA start.

Throughout the first couple months of the season, Austin looked and played like a rookie who was unsure of how to impact the game at this level. In conversations with his son, Doc Rivers stressed the need to just slow down and let the game come to him.

And as Rivers went about preparing the C's other opponents, he could see that Austin's challenges were more an across-the-board rookie issue that he saw in others, too.

"Look at all rookies, they're going too fast," Doc said. "Right before the all-star break, you could see him, you could see a couple guys, Bradley Beal, you could see them all at the same time like slowing down. I always said, it's tough for guards because the game speeds them up. But you could see them (slowing down)."

A broken hand may have ended Austin's season, but the success he had prior to the that was a much-needed jolt for his confidence. In his final game of the season on March 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Austin had made his first five shots with his first miss coming after he suffered the injury.

For the season, he averaged 6.2 points and 2.1 assists per game but shot just 37 percent from the floor. In his last five games, he averaged 8.4 points and two assists while shooting 62.1 percent from the field.

"At the end of the day, I ended on a good note," Austin said. "It just seemed every week, there was something that I got better at. Every week, I came into that week of games with something I didn't have the week before. The last 12, 15 games, I just started to get it."

As much as Austin deserves credit for his improved play, he is quick to acknowledge that his dad was also key to him starting to play more like he was accustomed to.

"That's the guy I vented to; that's the guy I went to after every game," Austin said. "Just because he went through stuff like that, just like any rookie went through stuff like that. That's who I go to for advice, just because he's done everything. I go to him and he helped me through a lot of those rough patches to the point where things started to go really well, I still talk to him because I wanted to keep playing the way that I was. So it's nice to have him in my corner."