When Doc Rivers ran the point for the Knicks in the early 1990’s, he never scored 14 consecutive points but he made smart basketball plays and chipped in with some big buckets to help win a lot of games. A generation later, Austin Rivers scored many big buckets and chipped in with smart plays to help the Knicks win a game.
Austin Rivers’ eye opening display in the fourth quarter of last night’s game brought back memories of the teams that his dad, Doc Rivers, played on.
Rivers scored 14 consecutive points in a stretch of just under 4:30 of the fourth quarter to lead the Knicks to an impressive, come from behind, 112-100 win over the Utah Jazz. Doc was not a prolific scorer with the Knicks, but he could score big buckets when they really needed them and Austin took a page from his father’s playing career with big shots and smart plays down the stretch.
Since Rivers made his Knicks’ debut, the team has won three straight and five of six overall. The “sonuva guard” snapped a 96-all tie with five straight points. After Donovan Mitchell made it a 101-98, Knicks lead, Rivers hit two straight three pointers to make it a nine point lead with less than 2:30 left. “He’s got a lot of toughness to him,” said Coach Tom Thibodeau. “Mental toughness, physical toughness, the courage to take those shots.”
This is Austin’s 9th NBA season. He has yet to play on an NBA Championship team. his father played 13 seasons and was robbed of his only chance to win an NBA title. Doc Rivers suffered a knee injury just 19 games into the 1993-1994 season and missed the remainder of the year. That included the Knicks’ run to the NBA Finals where they lost to Houston in seven games. You could make the argument that the series would’ve had a different result if Doc had been healthy.
In what has become a nightly event, Julius Randle had a team leading 30 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists. Elfrid Payton continues to silence the doubters with 22 points and 8 assists and 1 turnover in 42 minutes.
The Knicks are defending the perimeter, they are winning the glass and beating teams with points in the paint. It’s added to a three game winning streak and five wins in their last six games. Three of those five wins have come against playoff teams in Milwaukee, Indiana and Utah.
What has also stood out in these past three games is that the Knicks have had to come from behind all three times. Last night, they trailed Utah by 18 in the second quarter, but they’ve shown a penchant for being better in the second halves of games this season.
The Knicks have shown more poise in the first eight games than they have since the team used to enter the floor from center court at the Garden. “For us to do that against a team like, a top tier caliber playoff team, that’s pretty impressive,” Rivers said.
If you remember Arte Johnson’s parody of a German soldier in the old, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In,” his famous ending line could apply to what the Knicks have become lately. “Verr-dee in-ter-es-ting.”
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