Rajon Rondo made his return for the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and it didn’t look like he skipped beat.
In 37 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rondo put up 15 points, 13 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. This came from a guy who hadn’t played in nearly a month and whose status was in question up until an hour before tip-off.
Rondo was excellent, but following the game, he gave a very humble assessment of his performance.
“I felt fine. I don’t know what I looked like, but I felt fine. I got winded a couple of possessions,” Rondo said.
He also said that his hand felt “fine,” which is good news concerning his health going forward.
Rondo’s teammates were less reserved when talking about the impact he made in the game, even though they lost. Kyle Kuzma said that Rondo gave the Lakers a presence they’ve been missing on and off the court.
“He helped out a lot,” Kuzma said. “He’s one of our biggest leaders on the team. Another playmaker that we’ve needed since the second half in Houston. It was good to see him back out there.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton was also impressed with the way Rondo played, particularly with how comfortable looked in his first game back.
“Rondo was great. He was playmaking on both ends of the floor, helping us get organized,” Walton said. “He was 3-5 from three tonight. He hasn’t played in however long it’s been, he stepped up and hit some big shots for us.”
However, arguably no one benefited from having Rondo back more than Brandon Ingram, who said the point guard’s return allowed him to play with more “freedom” off the ball on offense. While Rondo only assisted one of Ingram’s baskets, Ingram finished with a team-high 20 points on 8-14 shooting from the field.
The Lakers will need all they can get from Ingram and Kuzma until James makes his inevitable return, so while having Rondo back doesn’t fix all of their problems, it certainly helps them get the best out of the pieces they have. That’s worth something, even if that something wasn’t a win on Thursday night.
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