Rajon Rondo helped guide the Celtics to a title in his second NBA season.
A dozen years later, he’s trying to do the same thing with the Lakers. So far, he has impressed LeBron James and his other star teammates — especially in Tuesday’s win over the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals, which gave Los Angeles a 2-1 series lead.
“’Playoff Rondo’ is real,” Anthony Davis said after Rondo had 21 points and nine assists. “His intensity picks up. He wants to guard the best perimeter guy. He wants to facilitate on the floor. He’s shooting the ball very well, making the right passes. We’ve got the two best I.Q. guys in the game with him and LeBron on the floor at the same time, which is tough for defenses. So, ‘Playoff Rondo’ is real, and he showed up.”
When the Lakers took control of the game in the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run, Rondo scored eight straight points — and got the assist on the other basket.
He also helped badger James Harden and limit Houston to 38 points in the second half.
“[It’s beneficial] when you have enough people you can trust and be in the foxhole with you, not from a basketball aspect, but from a cerebral aspect,” James said following the win. “The postseason is about making adjustments from game to game and also being able to make adjustments on the fly because things happen in real time.
“Being able to see how defenses are playing, seeing how the game is being played, seeing how the flow of the game is being played, there’s just not many guys that can do that in our league. In the postseason, it’s gigantic. Having [Rondo] on your side definitely helps.”
Rondo missed the seeding games and the Lakers’ first-round triumph over the Blazers after breaking his hand in a practice just as the NBA bubble opened. He returned for Game 1 against the Rockets.
Rondo is in his second season with the Lakers and is averaging 13 points per game to go along with 7.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds in the first three games against Houston.