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Report: Nuggets' Austin Rivers Enters Health and Safety Protocols, out vs. Magic

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2021

Mark Brown/Getty Images

Denver Nuggets guard Austin Rivers will reportedly sit out Wednesday night's road game against the Orlando Magic after entering the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported Rivers is expected to miss "several games."

The 29-year-old Duke product signed with Denver in April to provide some backcourt depth for the stretch run of the 2020-21 season. He re-signed with the organization in September on a one-year, $2.4 million contract.

Rivers has played a limited bench role to open the 2021-22 campaign. He's averaged 3.9 points and 1.4 rebounds while playing just 17.4 minutes per game across 18 appearances. He's shooting just 34.6 percent from the field, including 27.1 percent on threes.

His absence is the latest setback for the Nuggets, who've been without guard Jamal Murray all season while he recovers from a torn ACL and recently lost forward Michael Porter Jr. to a back injury, which will sideline him indefinitely.

Facundo Campazzo, who could take on a larger reserve role with Rivers out, said Sunday the team must create a defensive focus with key players sidelined.

"The best way to hide our injuries is to play with more hustle, with more energy, with more smarts, with more focus," Campazzo told reporters. "We have the key. It's all about want, wish. I think defense is just trying to be focused and put 200 percent right now because of the injuries."

P.J. Dozier, Bones Hyland and Markus Howard are among the other guards who may see more playing time in the short term.

Meanwhile, a timetable for Rivers' return isn't known, but the Nuggets are in a dense part of the schedule. They are in the midst of a seven-game road trip and will play five games in the next nine days starting against Orlando on Wednesday.

Rivers will likely return to a bench role once he clears protocols.

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