BOSTON — New Orleans Hornets rookie Austin Rivers sank a layup and ran past the Boston Celtics’ bench on his way back down the floor.
Doc Rivers had to fight his fatherly instinct and ignore him.
“I was about to say something and I didn’t; I caught myself. I forgot he was on the other team,” the Celtics coach said after facing his son for the first time. “It’s just a strange dynamic. I didn’t enjoy it, honestly. I know it’s neat for everyone else, but as a father, I don’t know if I enjoyed that.”
Greivis Vasquez had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Austin Rivers won his first NBA game against his father on Wednesday night as the Hornets beat Boston 90-78. New Orleans has won six of its last seven games to escape the Western Conference cellar.
“I knew it was a different game and I didn’t try to pretend like it wasn’t, and I think that helped me,” the younger Rivers said. “Now that this is out of the way, it will be a lot easier. I can just go out there and not worry about, ‘Oh man, this is weird.’”
Paul Pierce scored 12 points with 10 rebounds before fouling out in the final minutes as the Celtics’ six-game winning streak came to an end. Kevin Garnett scored 15 and Rajon Rondo had 11 assists.
Pierce shot 5 for 16 from the floor and made one of seven 3-point attempts as Boston went 4 for 18 from beyond the arc.
The Hornets were worse, going 2 of 17 from 3-point range. But they have won eight of 12 since an 11-game losing streak that stretched through much of December.
“If you look at our record, we’re in no position to laud or get happy about a couple of wins,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m more concerned about our next practice — how our guys prepare and come focused for that practice. That will tell me about our growth.”
Al-Farouq Aminu had 18 points and nine rebounds and Anthony Davis had 10 of each for New Orleans. Rivers scored eight points, going 3 for 6 from the field and 2 for 4 from the line while adding two fouls and an assist in 23 minutes.
“I’m not going to say anything too stupid,” Austin Rivers said. “At the end of the day, he has a lot more credentials or whatever you want to call it than I do. This is just one little moment for me.”
Doc Rivers is the fourth coach to face his son in an NBA game, joining Butch van Breda Kolff, Mike Dunleavy and George Karl. He spoke briefly with his son before the game, but showed little reaction during the game. The two embraced at the final buzzer.
“My dad didn’t really say anything to me,” Austin Rivers said. “Just before the game and after the game that he loved me and just told me to go out there and compete.”
The younger Rivers got a big cheer from the opposing crowd when he checked into the game with 4:19 left in the first half. Doc Rivers leaned back to say something to the assistant coaches sitting behind him and cracked a brief smile.
Austin Rivers spent much of his first stint on the court staking out a position on the right side, which placed him in front of the Celtics’ bench; there was no interaction with his father’s team. With about a minute left in the first quarter, he muscled a hook shot in for a basket, but his father had no reaction.
“I’m sure he hadn’t slept in about three or four days,” Williams said. “That’s a tough one: playing against your dad, your mom’s in the house, I’m screaming at him — and he goes out there and keeps his poise. I don’t understand that kind of pressure.”
The Celtics opened a 21-10 lead but then allowed six straight points, including a drive by Rivers. The Hornets scored 11 consecutive points midway through the second quarter to turn a five-point deficit into a 38-32 lead; they led by one at halftime, then scored the first eight points of the third quarter to make it 52-43.
It was 61-49 when Pierce made a turnaround jumper and, after Rondo swiped Vasquez’s bad pass, Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer. Jeff Green blocked Ryan Anderson, and Terry made a short jumper; Terry had another 3 and, later in the quarter, a steal to set up Pierce for a jumper in the final seconds that made it 67-63.
But the Celtics kept missing shots, failing to score from the 6:22 mark of the fourth quarter until 2:04 remained in the game. By then, the Hornets had turned a four-point lead into an 87-71 advantage. Boston shot 7 for 23 in the fourth quarter.