The Los Angeles Lakers steamrolled the Portland Trail Blazers and evened their first-round series with a 111-88 rout as stellar defensive effort was finally matched by a reenergized offense.
Good news piled up for L.A. on Thursday as Lakers head coach Frank Vogel indicated Rajon Rondo is very close to returning from a fractured thumb he suffered last month. The Lakers have missed the 34-year-old guard’s IQ and ball-handling on the second unit.
Rondo’s status was only upgraded to “questionable” ahead of Game 2 and he eventually watched the clash from the sidelines.
However, the Lakers made a statement and pulled off their most impressive display to date in the Orlando bubble behind a historic performance from Anthony Davis. The All-Star forward became the first player in franchise history — and fifth ever — to record 30 points and 10 rebounds in less than 30 minutes since the introduction of the shot clock.
And with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope recovering from his shooting slump and erupting for 16 points, going 4-for-6 from deep, things look bright for the Lakers again. They also appear poised to receive another boost as Rondo figures to soon be able to help L.A. in their championship run.
“He’s close. He’s got to get his legs under him,” Vogel said. “You go five or six weeks without playing basketball, you can work out all you want, it’s just not the same as playing in a game. He’s just got to get his legs under him.”
Rondo’s return means Vogel has another playmaker at his disposal who can initiate action from the elbow, an offense Lakers All-Star LeBron James historically thrives in.
“We’re doing that now, but definitely with another ballhandler out there you run that action more, whether it’s Rondo or Alex,” Vogel explained.
Vogel happy with Lakers’ ‘scrappy’ defense
L.A. struggled offensively in Game 1 against the Blazers, but have done really well on the defensive end so far in the series. Portland’s offense, which averaged 126 points per game in Orlando, was constrained to 100 points on Tuesday and just 88 in Game 2.
And Vogel praised his team’s defense following Thursday’s victory. “We’re playing scrappy,” he said.
“We’re competing at a very high level, the care factor on the defensive side of the ball is where it should be to win the playoffs, and we have tremendous respect for the offensive firepower of the team that we’re playing.”
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