COMMENTARY | The New Orleans Hornets lost more than a huge lead on Wednesday, March 6. The Hornets' epic collapse against the Los Angeles Lakers also came with the loss of rookie G Austin Rivers for four to six weeks. Rivers broke a bone in his hand in a collision with New Orleans teammate Greivis Vasquez.
Whatever the Hornets did to upset the balance of Karma came back on them with a vengeance Wednesday night. Besides the fact that Rivers had been playing much better of late, he was also having perhaps his best game of the season for New Orleans. Before leaving with his broken hand, Austin Rivers had 10 points on 5-6 shooting in the first half versus the Lakers.
The irony that Rivers could miss the rest of the season with an injury incurred by another Hornet is that Rivers was responsible for Anthony Davis' concussion earlier this season. Rivers elbowed Davis in the head, which caused him to miss several games for New Orleans. If only the Hornets were as tough on their opponents as they are on themselves, they'd probably have a much better record.
Despite complaints from both fans and the media, Hornets head coach Monty Williams has never wavered in his faith in Austin Rivers. Of course, since New Orleans selected him with the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Hornets have to put him on the floor to have him both earn his pay and improve with on-the-job training.
Rivers had consistently received solid minutes off the bench for New Orleans and he was a spot starter for Eric Gordon on the second night of back-to-back games. Since mid-February, Austin Rivers was defending much better and passing with more confidence. He had also regained faith in his jump shot.
However, four to six weeks off nursing his broken hand may effectively end the rookie's season prematurely. The good news about this injury is that it's not the dreaded knee or ankle condition. An injury below the waste can be devastating for an NBA player, given how much running and jumping they do. Austin Rivers is a young man and his broken hand should heal quickly in time for him to work out and improve his game during the offseason.
When the New Orleans Hornets become the Pelicans in 2013-14, Austin Rivers should be a major part of the team and he should suffer no ill effects from his broken hand.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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