The Los Angeles Lakers have begun to quell any talk about their legitimacy as a Western Conference contender, especially after their win against the Utah Jazz.
Despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back with several players under the weather, the Lakers still managed to rout the Jazz 121-96 to earn their 19th win of the 2019-20 NBA season.
Los Angeles has been an opportunistic team in transition to start the season as they generate turnovers at one of the highest rates in the league and are able to efficiently capitalize on those looks thanks to players like LeBron James. Against the Jazz, the Lakers recorded 13 steals which helped give them a 32-5 edge in fastbreak points.
Rajon Rondo was instrumental in pushing the pace and finding the open man and he finished the night with a near triple-double of 14 points, nine rebounds, and 12 assists.
James discussed Rondo’s impact on the floor and how the two have worked well together, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“He’s shown why we brought him back and why he wanted to come back and why I wanted him back. He’s just one of one of the most cerebral players I’ve ever played against in the past and obviously been with him the last two years. I know what’s what capable of, I know what his brain is thinking. I’m able to… it’s not so many guys that you can actually play the game without saying anything to ’em and me and Do kinda have that chemistry cause we kinda be on the same page, so it’s a beautiful thing.”
Rondo has a reputation around the league for his ability to diagnose plays before they happen and his high basketball IQ has been a huge asset for a Lakers team that lacks traditional playmakers on the roster. He has been able to assume primary ball-handling duties whenever he’s on the floor and it has allowed James to move off the ball more without compromising the team’s offensive sets.
The most encouraging part of Rondo’s game this season has been his outside shooting as that has always been the major knock to his game. So far, he is shooting nearly 50 percent on close to three attempts a game, a welcomed development for Los Angeles as they need all the spacing they can get for James and Anthony Davis.
Rondo’s steady play off the bench has helped the purple and gold tremendously on this road trip and hopefully, he continues it when they next take on the Portland Trail Blazers.