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Rockets’ Austin Rivers out vs. Lakers due to sprained right thumb

Austin Rivers, Rockets

Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers will sit out against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.

According to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, the 27-year-old Rivers is dealing with a sprained right thumb.

Saturday’s absence will only be Rivers’ third missed game of the 2019-20 season. The Rockets face an uphill battle against the high-powered Lakers. The Lakers are led by co-star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Houston is also dealing with back-to-back losses at the hands of perceived lower quality teams in their conference in the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers. Rivers’ absence lowers the team’s ceiling as the Rockets prepare to face the onslaught of James and company.

In 38 appearances so far this season, the 6-foot-3 Rivers has averaged 7.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 40.2% from the field and 30.3% from 3-point range.

After the Lakers, the Rockets face the surging Oklahoma City Thunder, led by second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and former Houston point guard Chris Paul, and play the second-best team in the west in the Denver Nuggets twice in five days.

On Friday, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey confessed that the team hasn’t played to their standards.

“Our aspirations are to win a championship,” Morey told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “So you gotta win at home. We haven’t executed well, and we haven’t played well.

“I think we have the players that can do it. We just gotta get it there. I mean, our first focus is always [to] win with what we got. And then obviously my job is to look at other things, but I think everyone’s focus is we got good players and let’s make it happen.”

That could change on Saturday should James Harden and Houston upset James and L.A.