If you would have told me ten years ago, in 2010, that Rajon Rondo and LeBron James were going to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a crucial win in the Western Conference semifinals, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.
Rondo was the Lakers’ bitter rival as the point guard of the Boston Celtics, as was James because of his friendly rivalry with Kobe Bryant. That, and it would have been safe to assume that Rondo and James would be well past their primes at 34 and 35, respectively.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened in the Lakers’ 112-102 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
James was on fire from the moment the ball tipped off, scoring eight of the Lakers’ first 15 points. James ended the first half with 29 points. However, despite James’ Herculean performance in the first half, the Lakers trailed 64-61 after two quarters. At that point, it seemed unlikely that James could do it on his own.
Fortunately for the Lakers, James got some much-needed help in the second half, even if it came later than he or Lakers fans would have liked. What was even more encouraging was where it came from.
In the fourth quarter, Rajon Rondo took control of the Lakers’ offense, scoring a pair of 3-pointers, intercepting passes, and making plays for his teammates. He ended the game with with 21 points, 9 assists and a steal.
If Tuesday night’s game wasn’t enough evidence that “Playoff Rondo” exists, then seeing a picture of Santa Claus himself might not be enough to convince you that Ol’ Saint Nick is real.
Anthony Davis was also incredible, tallying 26 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. The Rockets had no answer for him in the second half, despite his lackluster free-throw shooting, which is arguably the most disappointing development of the “new” season.
James’ final stat line of the night was 36 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. That’s pretty good.
The Lakers will look to increase their series lead to 3-1 on Thursday. The last time the Lakers were up 3-1 in a playoff series was ... last round. It should be a fun one.