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Rockets’ Austin Rivers will start vs. Grizzlies to ‘chase Ja Morant around’

Austin Rivers, Ja Morant, Rockets

Eight-year NBA veteran Austin Rivers will make just his third start this season for the Houston Rockets as they face off against the Memphis Grizzlies.

With Russell Westbrook resting for Tuesday’s game, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni announced that Rivers would get the start over Eric Gordon.

“Someone is gonna have to chase Ja Morant around, and I’m gonna let Austin do it,” D’Antoni said per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The task of guarding Morant won’t be an easy one. The No. 2 pick of the 2019 Draft has proven to be one of the best and most exciting rookies to enter the league in the last few years. In 34 games this year, the 6-foot-3 rookie is averaging 17.8 points, 6.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Not only that, but the Grizzlies are also arguably the hottest team in the NBA. Memphis has won six of its last seven games and has scored over 117 points in each game.

And while Rivers is making just his third start all season, the former lottery pick has been an integral piece to the Rockets’ success off the bench. In 22.9 minutes per game, Rivers is putting up 7.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from deep.

In Rivers’ last start, the combo guard struggled. The first-year Rocket shot just two for seven from the field while committing five turnovers.

Tuesday’s matchup marks the sixth time this season the Rockets have had to play without their star point guard. In the previous five games, Houston is 3-2 including a win against Memphis earlier in the season.