“I really landed awkwardly. My body fell on top of my ankle. I’ve never landed like that before.” Austin Rivers, Hornets guard
NEW ORLEANS — Hornets rookie guard Austin Rivers was hobbling a bit Tuesday, wearing a walking boot on his sprained right ankle, as he made his way toward the media at the Alario Center, where the team practices.
However, he was moving nearly in his usual brisk manner, and he was smiling.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “The fact that I can walk on it now. ... I can walk on it without the boot, as well, and it doesn’t give me too many problems.”
Rivers had even more of a reason to smile later in the day. The results of his MRI showed no structural damage to the ankle.
Rivers was injured at 3:22 of the second quarter of Monday night’s game against the Mavericks in Dallas when he drove to the basket and landed awkwardly. He did not return to the game, but X-rays Monday in Dallas were negative. He is listed as day-to-day and said he hopes to play by Friday night against Miami, certainly in the season-opener on Halloween night.
Rivers said that after he saw replays of the play, he was amazed he wasn’t severely injured.
“I really landed awkwardly,” he said. “My body fell on top of my ankle. I’ve never landed like that before.”
It’s the same ankle that caused Rivers to miss time during summer league play and on which he had minor, arthroscopic surgery. He said the two injuries are totally unrelated, and that he doesn’t have a history of problems with the ankle.
“My surgery was for a bone spur, and they scoped it,” he said. “It’s 100 percent now. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
However, Rivers fell near the end of Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage at New Orleans Arena. Laying near the White team bench, he looked at those players and said “It keeps giving out,” while holding his ankle and grimacing. Point guard Greivis Vasquez, who apparently did not hear what Rivers said, nonetheless told him not to talk to the White team’s players, obviously because they were foes during the scrimmage.
The Hornets (3-3) now have three injured players as the Houston Rockets (3-2) come to town for tonight’s second-to-last preseason game. And Hornets coach Monty Williams has other problems. Although he and his staff have been working on scaling back and cleaning up the team’s offense, recurring woes resurfaced in Monday night’s 87-74 loss to the Mavericks.
For the third consecutive game, the Hornets again had too many turnovers (19) to Williams’ liking, and they shot just 33 percent from the field and took more 3-point attempts (25, making seven) than free throws (14, making 11).
If they were playing better, tonight’s game could have been a gauge for the Hornets, who were 3-0 on Oct. 12 before being routed by the Rockets 95-75 at Houston, a game in which the team’s current ills first started.
A similar performance came six days later at Atlanta, before Tuesday’s loss.
Asked in what area he’d like to see the most improvement, Williams quickly answered “turnovers.”
“It’s not just a concern, it’s something we’re talking about a lot as a team and as a staff,” he said.
“I realize we’re young and playing with new guards, but that’s not something we want to become a trend, and right now it is.”
He said he’d also like to see more intensity and better shot selection.
One promising occurrence in Monday’s game was the rebounding of top pick Anthony Davis, who continues to impress with the start of the regular season a week away. Davis had 17 rebounds — six offensive — and two blocked shots, although he scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Perhaps also promising is that guard Eric Gordon was moving better in practice Tuesday while going one-on-one against assistant coach/director of player performance Carlos Daniel.
“I just want him to be as healthy as he can before he gets out there, because we don’t want any more setbacks,” Williams said.