The Lakers evened their series with the Rockets last night, winning 117-109 after an abysmal Game 1 from the purple-and-gold. The team kept themselves alive in the series behind monster performances from both of their two superstars, LeBron James (28 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists) and Anthony Davis (34 points, 10 rebounds). However, the Lakers also received great performances off their bench from Markieff Morris and Rajon Rondo. The latter only had 10 points (4-for-9 on FGs), but really impacted the game on both ends of the floor with nine assists as well as a game-high five steals.
Rondo was heavily scrutinized for his Game 1 performance, as you could tell that he lacked the rhythm in his first game back since March 10th, ending the game with four turnovers in only 24 minutes played. “Playoff Rondo” made an appearance instead of “Regular Season Rondo” in Game 2, leading to much praise for the intelligent veteran after the game. LeBron James was one of those people praising Rondo afterward, or as LeBron likes to call him, “‘Do” (reporting from Dave McMenamin/ESPN). Here’s what LeBron had to say about ‘Do.
“I think he was just extremely aggressive, not only offensively, but defensively — taking the challenge on James [Harden], taking the challenge on whoever he was guarding. Just trying to lead, I mean, that’s what ‘Do is. He’s a leader. And for us to have him back in the postseason, it’s a key for our team.”
New story: Playoff LeBron had only experienced Playoff Rondo as an opponent before Sunday. After Rajon’s performance in Game 2, LeBron had another label for the veteran point guard – “I mean, that's what 'Do is. He's a leader” https://t.co/6kw5TjzEiV
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 7, 2020
LeBron added what specifically Rondo does for this team:
“He comes in, he pushes the tempo, he gets guys involved and that doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet,” James said. “With ‘Do — the intangibles that he does both offensively and defensively — his nose is always around the ball and he just makes plays for us, and tonight was another example of that.”
Rondo definitely was more impactful on the defensive end than one can dream of, as he was playing defense sort of like LeBron does. They both are mostly impactful on that end playing a sort of “strong safety” role like in the NFL. They can lurk on the weak side of the defense waiting for a cross-court pass as both of them have natural instincts good enough to easily make plays on hard-to-reach balls.
Hopefully Rondo will continue to play more like Game 2 than Game 1, as he does present a new level of play on this team when playing well.