Lakers Highlight Leadership As Biggest Challenge To Being Without Rajon Rondo
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Lakers went into the locker room after a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in which LeBron James moved into fifth on the NBA all-time scoring list, a grim reality awaited and surprised them — Rajon Rondo suffered a broken hand in the fourth quarter.

How he sustained the injury wasn’t immediately clear, but the reality was Rondo figured to be sidelined for a minimum of a few weeks. He underwent surgery to repair fractured third metacarpal in his right hand and will be out at least one month.

“It’s tough. I mean, he’s one of our captains, one of our leaders,” James said of Rondo’s injury. “But I heard we got great surgeons here in L.A., so he’ll get right to it. Start his rehab as fast as possible.

“It’s next man up. I know Rondo hates the fact of what he’s going through, but we’ve all got to pick him up in his absence.”

While Rondo began the season as the starting point guard, he came off the bench after returning from a three-game suspension. He accepted the role, and was part of the Lakers finding a bit more consistency in their rotations.

“To me, he’s done an incredible job of getting that second group playing at a really nice level. The way he orchestrates a unit, getting guys shots, recognizing when players haven’t had a shot in a while,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.

“Him and KCP started to build a really nice chemistry. I think that whole group really counts on his playmaking and leadership, so that’s where he’ll be missed the most. But the way we make up for it, there’s obviously not another Rondo to just put out there to do that stuff, so it’s one of those things where as a team we all have to do a little more to make up for it.”

Lonzo Ball figures to be among the players that will be required to carry a larger load while Rondo is out. “He’s a true leader, coach on the floor, knows all the plays and where everyone is supposed to be. So it’s going to be tough having him out,” Ball said.

Walton indicated James, Lance Stephenson and Brandon Ingram could see time at point guard with the second unit. As for the mental aspect Rondo provides, he was providing instruction at practice the morning after the injury, and the team intends for him to travel once medically cleared to do so.

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