Midway through the disaster that was a 100-74 no-show loss to the Bobcats in North Carolina, Rivers was thinking he didn’t go far enough. Kevin Garnett  played 20 minutes, but struggled badly again, going 2-for-10 from the field.
“Yeah, definitely, otherwise he’d been part of that,” Rivers said when asked if he thought he did the right thing in giving Pierce the night off. “What I was thinking was I wish I had given Kevin the night off, too, in the middle of the game. That would’ve been terrific because then we could’ve had two guys that got some rest.”
As for Garnett, who is 8-for-29 in losses to the Thunder and Bobcats, Rivers says it’s a matter of getting him better looks.
“We’ve got to get him a better rhythm,” said Rivers, who refuted speculation that Garnett was tired or injured. “He’s been in a [bad] way now for a while now and that’s more on us. We have to get him the right shots and we’re not do a very good job of that.”
Rivers said he could sense early that his team had the wrong approach with Pierce getting the night off.
“I just thought we approached the game with the wrong mentality,” Rivers said. “I thought we were really cool tonight and they were really hard. And then I thought everyone thought they were going to take up for Paul’s points instead of coming into the game with the right mentality. You grind games out, you move the ball, you defend.”
“You could see it early on. Our guys thought we can trade baskets,” Rivers said. “They score, we can score right back on them but we couldn’t do that. We fouled a lot. We shot 50 percent in the first half and basically fouled every time down, it felt like. And Gerald Henderson looked at whoever was guarding him and said, ‘I’m better than you tonight,’ and proved that.”
Even though his team was outscored 51-28 in the second half, Rivers didn’t want to read too much into the second loss to coach Mike Dunlap and his Bobcats in a month.
“I just thought we laid an egg,” Rivers said. “I thought it was a by-product of the first half, honestly. It just carried over. We never could get it started. They played really hard. I tell you, every time I watch them, you look at their record, you have to give Mike a lot of credit, especially with the young guys. They played so hard and we, honestly, just couldn’t match how hard they played tonight for whatever reason. That’s on me. That’s disappointing that I couldn’t get that out of our guys. But we clearly did not.
“They were so much more competitive than us the entire night. It felt like we had a band-aid on the dam in the first half and then it came off, and they just blew it open.
“It’s one game. I’m not going to overdo it. Listen, we were awful tonight. Our spirit was awful, the way we played was awful but we also have to look at our team as a whole. We haven’t had a lot of nights like that. I’m not happy with the way the game went but overall, I like our team.”
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