With their 128-115 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Los Angeles Lakers just submitted their latest nominee in an increasingly crowded field of “worst loss of the year” candidates for the team, and Rajon Rondo was fairly matter-of-fact while speaking about it after the game.
Rondo knows the time for excuses about what led the Lakers to this point is over. They’re either going to come together and make the playoffs, or they won’t, as he outlined to Dave McMenamin of ESPN when talking about the team’s recent defensive struggles:
“We have no other choice,” Rondo said of the defense. “It’s either we do or we don’t. We do, we make the playoffs and still with that mindset if we do, if we get in the playoffs we can easily get swept in four games. So we have to start buying into the scouting report and start buying into each other and start to play for each other a lot more.”
Rondo is right. We can talk about injuries, or how the Lakers have went from top-ten defense to one of the worst in the league since Lonzo Ball went down, or any other obstacles this team has overcome. The fact of the matter still is that the Lakers are where they are, and they have to figure out how to win, or they’re going to miss the playoffs.
It’s also important to note that while the Lakers young guys are taking a lot of flak right now, the veterans on this team — including Rondo — aren’t blameless of the behaviors he pointed out above.
Take, for example, this possession. Is this locking in and playing to the scouting report, or playing for each other? You be the judge:
Crossed up by a center. May as well be one of those orange cones they put down for a dribbling circuit. pic.twitter.com/Go36ZEz1wT— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) February 24, 2019
This isn’t to pin all of the Lakers’ struggles on Rondo with one cherry-picked possession, but just to acknowledge that this team is facing very real issues all across the roster, and that the veterans aren’t blameless in the collective lack of focus or sacrifice that allows a team to get walked over by a thoroughly mediocre-at-best Pelicans team that’s out of the playoff hunt, all while the Lakers’ own postseason lives are on the line.
Basically, Rondo is right, even if he’s not innocent of the flaws he’s pointing out. The Lakers do need to buy in. All of them, not just the young guys with less established names. They all need to play together, follow the scouting report and sacrifice.
If they don’t, they aren’t going to make the playoffs. It’s just as simple as that at this point.
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