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Strong game from Rajon Rondo not enough for Lakers to overcome absence of LeBron James

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The Lakers were surprisingly competitive with the Warriors even without LeBron James, but ultimately it wasn’t enough on the road against the two-time defending champions.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When the Golden State Warriors went on a 7-0 run to start the night against a Los Angeles Lakers team missing star forward LeBron James, the game looked to be exactly the type of blowout loss many were predicting as soon as it was announced that James would miss the game for “load management” after playing 40 minutes in an overtime win over the LA Clippers on Thursday.

But even without James and veteran center Tyson Chandler, the Lakers battled valiantly against the two-time defending champions, scrapping and clawing their way to a 78-69 lead in the third quarter before being outscored 46-23 the rest of the way to fall to the Warriors, 115-101, in a game that was still closer than most predicted.

Rajon Rondo was huge for the Lakers in keeping things relatively close, masterfully controlling the game and dictating the offense for the Lakers to finish with 12 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds in a well-rounded effort.

Brandon Ingram also continued his strong recent stretch, scoring a team-high 20 points and (maybe) upping his trade value in the process. Someone send Dell Demps these highlights!

In the end, though, Golden State is just unfair. They start five All-Stars from last season, and even if they complain and woof an obnoxious amount (something Josh Hart took exception to when drawing a double-technical with Kevin Durant in the second half), they are still good enough to mess around for three quarters and then hit a different gear for five minutes and take a game back over.

Stephen Curry hit three after three in the fourth quarter to finish with 14 points after scoring 2 points in the first three quarters, Durant scored 21 points of his own, and the Dubs pulled out a dub.

L.A. was never likely to win this game without LeBron, and yes, they need every win right now. Still, it’s intellectually dishonest to criticize the overmatched Lakers for the effort they showed tonight, and this team deserves credit for giving us a competitive game to wile away our Saturday night with instead of the boring road blowout we all expected.

The Lakers will next play Tuesday, and there will surely be plenty more trade rumor fireworks before then. Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll (and our Lakers trade rumors tracker) until then.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.