Rivers surprises staff, puts assistant in charge of second half

Rivers surprises staff, puts assistant in charge of second half
October 17, 2012, 4:08 am
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BOSTON Players aren't the only ones Doc Rivers throws into unexpected scenarios this time of year.

The Boston Celtics coach, to the surprise of many - including his staff - spent the second half of Boston's 97-96 loss to Brooklyn inside the locker room.

Rivers left longtime assistant Armond Hill in charge of the team in his absence.

"He's always said that as much as players are in training camp, so are coaches," Hill said. "And so what would happen if he gets thrown out, we gotta be prepared."

Last season, Rivers was tied with then-Charlotte head coach Paul Silas as the NBA coaching leader in technical fouls, with eight.

Although there was some speculation that Rivers spent the second half watching the presidential debate, it was clear to Hill after the game that Rivers' attention was squarely on the Celtics game.

One of the first things Rivers asked Hill about was his decision to have five guys on the floor down the stretch, but none were point guards.

"But, once I explained that Courtney (Lee) was cramping up a little bit, he understood," Hill said.

Celtics forward Paul Pierce likes the idea of Rivers throwing his assistants into the head coaching seat unexpectedly.

"It's good experience for our assistant coaches," Pierce said. "It might be a case where he gets kicked out of a game. We hope not, but the other guys have to be ready to step up just like the players. There are times when I might foul out; other guys have to be ready."

And Hill is definitely ready.

This will be his ninth season as a Celtics assistant coach. Prior to that, he was an assistant on the Atlanta Hawks staff during the 2003-2004 season. In addition, he spent eight years as a head coach at Columbia University where his 2001-2002 squad led the nation in scoring defense by limiting opponents to just 57 points per game.

A former first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 1976, Hill played eight seasons in the NBA with all but two spent with the Hawks.

And from Hill's perspective, being given a chance by Rivers to coach the Celtics - even if it was for half a game - can do nothing but help him and his coaching career.

"I can only thank Doc for giving me the opportunity to coach," Hill said. "That's what we're all here for. He's taught me and I've been with him and he continues to teach me and he gave me another opportunity tonight."