Courageous Austin Rivers might now be looking at sweet payday

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Austin Rivers speaks to his father, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, after coming back a quarter after having his eye busted up by an errant elbow delivered by Portland’ Al-Farouq Aminu this past Friday in the Clippers’ Game 6 loss at Moda Center in Portland/AP photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

 

Austin Rivers at some point may actually want to thank Al-Farouq Aminu of the Portland Trail Blazers. It was an errant elbow by Aminu in the second quarter of the Clippers’ season-ending 106-103 Game 6 loss at Portland on Friday that busted up the left eye of Rivers.

Rivers missed a quarter of action and came back with 11 stitches around the nearly shut eye. He went on to play an almost-unbelievable game, under the circumstances. He scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and had eight assists.

Rivers has a player option for $3,344,106 for next season. Considering he made $3,110,796 this season, it’s not likely he’ll exercise it, not with Game 6 now in his negotiating bag. His father, Doc Rivers, is head coach and president of basketball operations for the Clippers, The elder Rivers was asked Monday if his son’s stock rose with his gallant performance, which was made possible by Aminu.

“I don’t know,” Doc Rivers said. But the more he spoke, the more it was obvious his son had put himself in a desirable position because of the courage he displayed.

“It’s funny how blinded coaches are, like during the game,” Doc Rivers said. “I was yelling at JP (Jasen Powell) the trainer, like, ‘Where the hell is Austin?’ ”

He was getting stitches in his eye.

“I thought the doctors were taking forever to do what … I didn’t know what they were doing,” Doc Rivers said. “And then when he came out, I looked at his eye, but I just said, ‘You ready?’ And then he went out and played. And I think because of the way he was playing, I wasn’t thinking about his eye.”

It hit him following the loss, though.

“Then after the game, obviously, I mean, when you look at it now, you think, ‘Wow, don’t know if I would have done that, or could have done that,’ ” Doc Rivers said. “And so that was good. It was good for him. But that’s who he is. That’s what makes him good.

“It’s not just his defense, it’s just his toughness.”

Doc Rivers would not get into specifics, other than to say his son is one of the players on the team he expects will “get deals this summer, and we’re hoping they’re here.”

The salary cap is an issue. The Clippers – not including player options – have roughly $78 million in guaranteed contracts for 2016-17, when the cap is expected to rise to about $89 million. Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Jeff Green, Pablo Prigioni and Jeff Ayers are free agents and Cole Aldrich and Wes Johnson have player options, so there are those considerations.

One thing’s certain, Doc Rivers is proud as a peacock.

“More, I guess, the next day because of all the texts and calls,” he said. “I got a lot of calls from other coaches around the league. They kept saying, ‘Your son,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ “

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Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts praises wherewithal of Clippers

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Austin Rivers had his left eye nearly shut from an errant elbow from Portland’s Al-Farouq Aminu in Saturday’s Game 6 at Moda Center in Portland. Rivers took 11 stitches/AP photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

 

Coach Terry Stotts’ Portland Trail Blazers had just eliminated the Clippers with a 106-103 victory in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series Friday at Moda Center. Portland won 4-2.

The first question him came from a reporter who wanted to know what Stotts thought about the Clippers’ heart. After all, not only were the Clippers without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – their two best players – Austin Rivers took an elbow to his left eye in the first quarter. Rivers took 11 stitches, came back and finished with 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

Indeed, Stotts was impressed.

“Well, I’m glad you brought that up,” Stotts said. “I want to congratulate the Clippers and Doc (Rivers). Obviously, the injuries that they had was a setback, but they really competed hard.”

Stotts said he was disappointed that Paul and Griffin didn’t get to finish the series, both of them going down in Game 4.

“Obviously, they had championship aspirations and they weren’t playing at full strength, so I really admire what they were able to do,” he said. “We knew they were going to play hard, we knew they were gong to compete and they did, so I’m thrilled with the win. But my hat’s off to them.”

Doc Rivers, who just finished his third season as head coach of the Clippers, won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008. But he said he has never felt better about a team than he does this one.

“No, I told them, I’ve been around a long time,” he said. “What I loved about this group is they didn’t care. They never looked for an excuse, they never … you know, guys didn’t play. Blake went out, CP (Paul) went out. I mean, they never doubted it. They believed they could do it.

“Obviously, they didn’t. But, man, that team had more heart than any team I’ve ever seen. It was amazing to coach them.”

 

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 106-103 Game 6 loss at Portland

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Clippers center DeAndre Jordan reacts after the Clippers’ Game 6 loss at Portland, which ended the Clippers’ season/AP photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

 

Austin Rivers showed about as much heart as a player can show in this loss that eliminated the Clippers from the playoffs, Portland winning the first-round series 4-2. Rivers had his left eye nearly destroyed by an errant elbow from Portland’s Al-Farouq Aminu with 6:46 left in the first quarter. Rivers was a bloody mess. At that point, Rivers had five points. He took 11 stitches, came back at 5:03 of the second quarter and finished with 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

– Sixth-man Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 32 points. But he shot just 1 of 9 in the fourth quarter to finish 10 of 25 from the field. Considering he played 38 1/2 minutes, it was still a gutty performance by the 36-year-old Crawford.

– As a team, the Clippers were a tough group. Keep in mind that both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – their two best players – were not on the floor for the second consecutive game. Paul fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand in Game 4 at Portland and Griffin’s partially torn quad tendon began acting up in the same game.

DeAndre Jordan pulled down 20 rebounds. He is the first player to have at least 15 rebounds in five consecutive playoff games since San Antonio’s Tim Duncan did it in 2008 against the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Jordan had 18, 16, 15, 17 and 20 rebounds over the last five games of the six-game series.

– What this loss means is that the Clippers will go another season without advancing to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. That dates back to the 1970-71 season when the team was the Buffalo Braves.

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Jamal Crawford’s 22 points have Clippers within two points at halftime of Game 6 in Portland

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Missing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers did very well to trail the Trail Blazers by just 50-48 at halftime of Game 6 of their first-round playoff series on Friday night at Moda Center in Portland.

Not only are the Clippers without their two best players, guard Austin Rivers took a vicious elbow to his left eye from Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu with 6:46 left in the first quarter. Rivers suffered gashes over and below his eye and took stitches in both areas. He returned with 5:03 to play in the second quarter.

Clippers sixth-man Jamal Crawford led all scorers with 22 first-half points. Jeff Green, who started at one of the forward spots, scored eight.

Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum scored 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Paul is out with a fractured third metacarpal in his right hand. Griffin is out with a partially torn left quad tendon.

The Trail Blazers led the series 3-2.

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Austin Rivers cut over and below left eye after taking elbow from Portland’s Al-Farouq Aminu

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

As if things weren’t bad enough for the depleted Clippers, guard Austin Rivers went down in heap with 6:46 left in the first quarter of Game 6 on Friday when he took caught a vicious right elbow to his left eye delivered by Portland forward Al-Farouq Aminu.

Rivers was down for several minutes, bleeding profusely. He eventually got to his feet and was escorted to the locker room.

Rivers was replaced by Pablo Prigioni. Rivers took stitches above and below the eye and was considered probable to return, according to the Clippers.

The Clippers are already missing point guard Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injury.

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Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan has been a demon on the boards

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Amid the injuries that have taken Chris Paul and Blake Griffin out of the L.A. Clippers’ first-round playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers, has been the rebounding prowess of Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan on Friday entered Game 6 at Moda Center in Portland with a chance to become the first player since 2008 to grab at least 15 rebounds in five consecutive playoff games. San Antonio’s Tim Duncan did it when he pulled down 18, 16, 21, 17 and 15 in the Spurs’ 4-1 Western Conference finals series loss to the Lakers in ’08. Jordan had 12 rebounds in Game 1 of this series. He since has had 18, 16, 15 and 17.

Coach Doc Rivers has been impressed.

“He’s been great,” said Rivers, whose team was down 3-2 before Friday. “I mean, D.J.’s been great all year, not just this series, so it’s nothing that’s that surprising to me.”

Jordan was the league’s leading rebounder in the playoffs with a 15.6 average.

Jordan was one of three Clippers who were invited to vie for a roster spot on the USA National team that will compete in this summer’s Rio Games. Paul pulled out long before he fractured his right hand in Game 4 on Monday at Moda Center. And now that Griffin’s partially torn left quad tendon has again taken him out of action, chances are Jordan will be the only Clippers player going for a spot on the USA roster.

“That would be a great experience for him,” Rivers said. “I think Chris pulled out already and now Blake’s injury. I think Blake wouldn’t play because of it,
but I actually think he could. But I don’t think he will. But D.J., it would be a great experience for him.”

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