The Los Angeles Lakers took the lead (2-1) in their second-round series against the Houston Rockets with an encouraging 112-102 win on Tuesday. Here are three takeaways from the nail-biter that was Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Playoff Rondo IS a thing
On Sunday night, I made the not-so-bold proclamation that Playoff Rajon Rondo “might” be a thing. Now, after seeing Rondo play on Tuesday, I can say with confidence that Playoff Rajon Rondo is a thing, whether he believes it is or not.
I asked Rondo about 'Playoff Rondo’ in the @SpectrumSN walkoff interview: “I don’t buy into it.” He said it’s more about getting minutes from the coaching staff, and his teammates playing off him. But … he definitely just played his 2 best games of the season back to back. https://t.co/w15KRTFMke— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 9, 2020
In 30:07, Rondo tallied 21 points and 9 assists. The last time Rondo tallied at least 21 points and 9 assists was in 2018, when he scored 22 points and dished out 12 assists in the New Orleans Pelicans’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals. Fortunately for him and the Lakers, his efforts came in a win on Tuesday.
A two-game sample size is small, especially when compared to the two seasons Rondo has been a net negative for the Lakers, but he deserves some credit for what he’s shown in the last two games — he’s been fantastic.
LeBron James is unreal ...
LeBron James scored 29 points in the first half. For context, there are there are 24 minutes in the first half. He only played 18 of them. Like, are you joking?
James scored 47.5% of the Lakers’ points in the first half, which is the highest percentage of points in the first half of a playoff game for a Lakers player over the last 25 postseasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
James finished the night with 36 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks, all of which came in the third quarter. James’ four blocks in the third quarter were the most shots he’s blocked in his career, playoffs or otherwise. He also became the first person to record at least 35 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
He’s a real-life super hero.
More Vogel on LeBron.— Playoff Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 9, 2020
"Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James... It's why he should be MVP."
... but he can’t do it on his own
Even at the age of 35 years old, James is capable of being the most dominant player in a playoff series. However, he can’t do it all on his own, nor should he be expected to.
The Lakers managed to come out with the win on Tuesday, but it was close, and not because of anything the Rockets did especially well. Simply put, the Lakers’ role players need to do a better job of, well, playing their roles. That means Danny Green, Alex Caruso and Markieff Morris have to make their 3-point shots, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope needs to do a better job of finishing his shots and Anthony Davis needs to make his free-throws.
Obviously Davis is more than a role player, but even he has room to improve. Like Lakers great Nick Young once said: Batman needs his Robin.