After playing three games without Rajon Rondo as he served a suspension for his role in a fight with Chris Paul, the veteran point guard returned Saturday night against the San Antonio Spurs. They were responsible for one of the Lakers’ losses this season, which was a game Rondo missed.
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Although he was a starter for the first two games of the season, Rondo was brought off the bench in his return from suspension. Lakers head coach Luke Walton explained it was in effort to ensure one of LeBron James or Rondo are on the court at all times.
Of course, there’s also the component of Lonzo Ball shining as a starter. Both point guards were on the floor down the stretch against the Spurs, but the results left plenty to be desired.
There was one sequence in particular, when Rondo drove to the basket and had a clear lane for a layup. However, he pulled the ball out and looked for a three-point shot. A desperate attempt came up empty, and the Lakers lost.
When asked about the play, Rondo explained his decision was based on the Lakers not having any timeouts, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk:
“We didn’t have any more timeouts,” Rondo said. “You know, I thought I could probably suck somebody in [on the Spurs’ defense off the Lakers’ 3-point shooters], but they did a great job of staying home. The layup would have gotten us one point closer. We’d still have to foul, but we didn’t have any timeouts, so maybe … I just made a split decision, and we didn’t get what we wanted.”
Rondo is considered one of the more cerebral players in the NBA, and though his decision was a curious one, Walton did not question it. The game could have been a byproduct of Ball and Rondo not yet having experience playing together, but initial results of their sharing the court doesn’t paint an optimistic picture.
Walton has not specified whether Ball will continue to start or if he will revert to the original lineup that featured Rondo.