Nuggets guard Austin Rivers, a DNP-CD on Friday, returned to the team’s starting lineup on Sunday with several players sidelined and logged 34 minutes in a six-point win over Detroit.
After the game, head coach Michael Malone said he met with Rivers on Saturday to talk to him about the ever-changing rotation, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets. Malone, stressing that his focus is winning games rather than making sure 17 players are happy about their minutes, said that Rivers is “a pro” who can deal with adjustments to his role.
For his part, Rivers said he’s willing to do what the team asks of him, though he believes he’s capable of providing more than he has.
“I know I can help this team win games,” Rivers said when asked what he discussed with Malone (Twitter link via Singer). “… I’m 29, I’m young, I feel great, I’m in my prime. I know I can be better than what I have played, too. You just have an honest conversation.”
Here’s more on the Nuggets:
- Newly-acquired guard Bryn Forbes could eat into Rivers’ playing time, but Rivers said he “didn’t take it personally” when the Nuggets traded for Forbes, pointing out that they do different things on the court (Twitter link via Singer). Rivers is the more natural ball-handler of the two, while Forbes is the stronger shooter.
- Malone was surprised that the Nuggets were able to sign big man DeMarcus Cousins in free agency after the way he performed for the Bucks earlier in the season, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “This guy, after playing really well in Milwaukee, was sitting at home waiting for his phone to ring,” Malone said following Cousins’ Denver debut on Sunday. “That’s crazy to me. I don’t know if people are scared of him or what. But I’m not scared of him. I love him.”
- Rivers said Cousins brings the Nuggets’ second unit a “grit” they need, according to Keeler. “Everybody knows he’s an enforcer,” Rivers said. “… He’s still got to get his legs back, but he’s going to be big for this team. Especially with that second unit. He’s going to be a problem.” Malone agreed that Denver’s bench will benefit from Cousins’ grit: “That’s the mentality that group needs. They’ve got to have toughness. You’re not just going to come out and run your offense and be all pretty. We’ve got to disrupt that, be physical. And if they can do that, (that unit) can help our team a lot.”