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Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says Austin Rivers has ‘been a lifesaver’

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni had high praise for combo guard Austin Rivers on Saturday, saying Rivers has “been a lifesaver” for the team.

The Rockets signed Austin Rivers on Dec. 24 due to the injury to All-Star point guard Chris Paul. Rivers has appeared in nine games with Houston and is averaging 12.2 points per game.

Austin Rivers fits in perfectly with the Rockets and the offense they run. The 26-year-old loves to shoot 3-pointers and can get to the rim and finish in traffic. Houston needed Rivers’ services badly after Paul hurt his hamstring against the Miami Heat.

The former Duke star gives the team another ball handler and player who can create his own shot off the dribble alongside superstar James Harden. Rivers is shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from beyond the arc with Houston.

The Rockets are starting to look like themselves again. The club enters Saturday with a record of 24-17, good for fifth place in the Western Conference standings. It was a rough start to the season for the Rockets, but Harden has led the team on a crazy run to climb up in the standings.

Since Dec. 11, Houston is 13-3. Once Paul and Eric Gordon come back, the Rockets will have really good depth in the backcourt.