Austin Rivers’ hot hand helped lead the Nuggets to a Game 3 win over the Blazers on Thursday night.
With nearly six minutes to go in regulation, the score was tied 91-91. That’s when Rivers got hot, knocking down four 3s — scoring 16 of his 21 points in the fourth.
Rivers’ outburst, along with a 36-point performance from center Nikola Jokic, resulted in a 120-115 victory over Portland. The Nuggets now lead the first-round playoff series 2-1.
After the game, Rivers reflected on the pivotal playoff win and the rocky road he traveled to get to the Nuggets.
“This game can bring you to the lowest feeling in the world. I swear, some nights you can feel so low,” he said. “And then this game can make you feel so good about yourself, too. It’s a beautiful game.”
Just a few months ago, Rivers was out of the NBA and unsure of his playing future.
He spent the beginning of the season with the Knicks before he was traded to the Thunder at the deadline and then waived. He lost his spot in the rotation when the Knicks acquired point guard Derrick Rose. Rivers did not handle the benching particularly well. The Post’s Marc Berman reported Rivers did not sit on the bench during one game.
On April 20, Rivers signed a 10-day deal with the Nuggets to add depth to their backcourt after losing star Jamal Murray to a torn an ACL. Rivers later signed with the team for the rest of the season.
“I sat there for like a month and a half, waiting on the phone to ring. I just put my faith in God, having conversations with myself, talking to God like, ‘What’s the plan? What’s going to happen?’” Rivers said, adding that the situation broke his heart.
“All the feedback I kept getting is, a lot of teams liked me but they didn’t know what type of character I was and how I’d be in their locker room. My basketball ability was never questioned; it was who I was as a person. Which is actually even worse.”
After the Nuggets’ Game 3 win, head coach Mike Malone discussed Rivers’ time away from the league.
“The guy was sitting at home for two-and-a-half months waiting for the phone to ring and it wasn’t ringing,” he said. “That’s crazy to even think about.”
Jokic added that Rivers “won the game” for Denver.
Game 4 in the Nuggets-Blazers first round playoff series tips off Saturday at 4 p.m. in Portland.
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