Last night, the Lakers lost their second straight Game 1 in these 2020 NBA Playoffs, losing 112-97 to the Rockets. This game is hurting a little more than the Game 1 loss to the Trail Blazers, as that loss was mostly due to the Lakers missing open threes leading to a 15.6% mark from deep. The Lakers still didn’t have a spectacular night from three (28.9%), but the reasons for their inability to score against the Rockets are deeper than that. LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma had extremely poor nights from the field, but many are looking at the return of Rajon Rondo in last night’s game as a reason for the Lakers’ struggles.
Game 1 was Rondo’s first time playing in the bubble as he fractured his thumb before the exhibition scrimmages even began. He had the opportunity to play against the Trail Blazers, with back spasms delaying his return. Frank Vogel, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the team have defended Rondo all season although many have been dismayed by his play, and they continued to defend him last night.
AD is confident that Rondo is going to be able to help the Lakers as the series goes along and he gets his wind back.
“He’s a great player and a great cerebral player."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 5, 2020
“It is a challenge, working in a new player to your rotation at this stage in the playoffs, but Rajon is one of the smartest players in the league, and obviously our guys’ IQ raises when he’s on the court. He’s definitely going to help us this series.”
Rondo played 24 minutes in his first game since March 10th, scoring eight points on 3-of-9 from the field. They dared him to hit three-pointers, as Rondo somewhat rose to the challenge by making two of his five attempts, but still. Those three-pointers were either open or WIDE open, with others on the Lakers probably being able to make more with the quality of looks Rondo was getting. To further hurt his cause, Rondo had four turnovers in his short time playing. That’s something that cannot happen while he is hurting the team’s spacing, as Rondo is continuously touted as the Lakers’ potential floor general while LeBron James is off the floor.
The Lakers have to make some sort of adjustments going into Game 2, but it surely doesn’t sound like the Lakers will try and reduce those 24 minutes that Rondo played. Hell, it sounds like those minutes may just increase.