Austin Rivers delivers big 4th quarter to lead Nuggets past Trail Blazers in Game 3

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Austin Rivers delivers big 4th quarter to lead Nuggets past Trail Blazers in Game 3

Denver Nuggets guard Austin Rivers was without a team over a month ago but on Thursday night he lead the Nuggets to a big playoff win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers were hoping to take a 2-1 lead on Thursday night but Rivers scored 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to help the Nuggets 120-115 and take a 2-1 lead.

"I sat there for like a month and a half, waiting on the phone to ring. I just put my faith in God, having conversations with myself, talking to God like, 'What's the plan? What's going to happen?'" Rivers said, per ESPN.

"All the feedback I kept getting is, a lot of teams liked me but they didn't know what type of character I was and how I'd be in their locker room. My basketball ability was never questioned; it was who I was as a person.

Which is actually even worse. "Truthfully, it broke my heart. Because I know who I am, and I've always had good relationships with people, but you can have one instance with mistakes and be labeled something."

Nuggets head coach happy for Rivers

"Couldn't be happier for the kid," coach Michael Malone said. "I just told our team, think about this -- guy was sitting at home for 2½ months waiting for his phone to ring.

And it wasn't ringing. That to me is crazy to even think about. Austin Rivers is a good player. He's played in 45 playoff games prior to this season, and it just worked out for him and us that he's here." Rivers admitted it wasn't easy sitting at home without a team.

"This game can bring you to the lowest feeling in the world. I swear, some nights you can feel so low," Rivers said. "And then this game can make you feel so good about yourself, too. It's a beautiful game.

"It was a humbling experience. But it's made me a better player. It's made me a better person." Rivers started shooting more in the fourth quarter and it paid off for the Nuggets. "Funny thing is, he scored 16 points in that fourth quarter, shooting into a really big basket.

Prior to that, I felt he was turning down open shots," Malone said. "He wasn't shooting the ball. I said to him three or four times, 'Austin, let it go, let it fly, shoot the ball when you're open.' And eventually in that fourth quarter, he did."