Laker Nation has been waiting for Rajon Rondo to return to his Boston Celtics, Championship winning, player potential. In Game 3 against the Rockets, Laker Nation witnessed the difference Rondo can make, when he is healthy, running on all cylinders and playing at a high level. Rondo played 30 minutes, was 8-11 from the field, 3-5 from the three point line and finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds. Rondo is helping the Lakers do what I thought was impossible and that is shoot their way to a victory. The Rockets last night just dared Rondo to shoot, showing him no respect, falling back into the paint, thinking he had no confidence in his broke shot and that he was going to penetrate and pitch.
Rondo said, “Leave me open if you want too…” Every time the Lakers desperately needed a basket in the forth quarter Rondo either made one himself or penetrated into the paint and kicked the ball out to a wide open shooter for an easy three point attempt. That is the difference a traditional, old school Championship winning point guard can make on your team. Rondo has been to the mountain top once before with the Celtics and you can tell he wants one with the Lakers, bad.
This is the second game in a row that the Rockets have just withered away in the forth and I believe there is a distinct correlation between them unraveling late in the game and that they have no Championship winning players out on the court. Every team needs an old school veteran on the court who knows their niche and role on their team. Someone who knows what they need to do and how to do it in order for their team to get the victory. Game 3 was by far the best game Rajon Rondo has had wearing a Lakers uniform. If Rondo can continue to play at this level, the Lakers will easily finish the Rockets. His stoic demeanor is having a positive influence on the entire team, especially Kyle Kuzma.
Several of Rondo’s assists went to Kyle as he curled into the paint off of screens for critical, must have lay ups late in the game to help the Lakers pull away. I still think the Lakers have to have most of their points in the paint in order to win. But when they kept running and pounding the ball into the paint all game, the Rockets began to collapse into the paint, which left Rondo able to kick the ball out to wide open players for three. We are watching incredible basketball from both sides, the Rockets played great for three and a half quarters, Russell Westbrook had 30 points and James Harden added 33. The Rockets have the talent, but they lack that stoic, battle worn, disciplined general that the Lakers have in both Rajon Rondo and LeBron James, who finished with 36 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
LBJ is playing at such a high level, it has become almost normal and it is not. LeBron is refusing to lose, he makes his teammates better and play harder, with more grit and determination to win. LeBron and Rondo are playing with the heart of Champions and it is bleeding, trickling down onto and inspiring the rest of the team. That includes Anthony Davis who had 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. I have come to really respect his jump shot. I wish he would post up more in the paint on offense, like a traditional center like Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon or even Shaquille O’Neal, but that is not his game. Regardless, he still manages to run into the lane and snag rebounds, if he can maintain a double- double average throughout the playoffs, the Lakers will win the championship and AD will become a billionaire with a new contract extension.