• Brian L. Barefield

Self-Confidence Rockets reserve guard Austin Rivers comes off the bench to score a career-high 41.

The multi-platinum artist Beyonce had a huge hit back in 2009 named “Ego” and on the remix she added another multi-platinum artist in Kanye West. In his verse he said some profound lyrics that describe Houston Rockets backup point guard Austin Rivers perfectly.

“Coulda let the dream killers, kill my self-esteem, Or use the arrogance as a steam that power my dreams, And my ego.”

On Sunday night Rivers used that steam against the Sacramento Kings to score a career-high 41 points as the Rockets (44-25) defeated the Kings (29-41) by a score of 129-112. Houston improved to 4-1 since the season restarted in the ESPN Disney Orlando bubble, making them one of the hottest teams heading into the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.

It had been since 1991 that a reserve scored that many points off the bench for the Rockets. Guard Sleepy Floyd put up 40 points in a win over the Denver Nuggets in Denver.

Rivers, who is one of the first players used by head coach Mike D’Antoni off of the bench shot 70% from the field hitting 14-of-20 shots taken, including a scorching 6-of-11 from three-point range. His scoring outburst helped the Rocket overcome a horrid first quarter start that left them trailing by 13-points. The former Duke star only missed one shot in the entire first half while leading Houston in scoring with 19 points.

“I always try and stay confident,” said Rivers who also added six rebounds and four assists to his game totals. “It’s not easy. You play with two of the best guards in the NBA who have the ball in their hands a lot, but you play your role and that’s what I do every game. Be aggressive. Be competitive and I always have confidence in my game. I believe I can score with the best of them.”

The Rockets have been without superstar point guard Russell Westbrook over the last two games and without Eric Gordon for the last five. That has opened the door for Rivers and Ben McClemore to take advantage of more minutes in their absences.

"You continue to tell yourself, 'You can do this, you can do this, you can do this, you can do this,' for nights like this," said Rivers,

Although he put up a great night offensively, it was the defensive effort and communication on the floor that impressed the son of former NBA guard and current Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

“I thought we came out a little lacksidasical,” Rivers said about the team’s energy in the first quarter. “When you are playing for a championship, you can’t come out lacksidasical. I think we did a good job of nipping that in the bud early and then just getting back to our championship value ways and building back our good habits.”

Houston doubled up the Kings in the next two quarters, outscoring them 70-35 to put the game away for good.

The Rockets will be back in action on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs.

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