Lakers: Rajon Rondo and other problems plague the purple and gold

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed in Game 1 and Rajon Rondo is at the root of the problems.

Another Game 1, another Los Angeles Lakers‘ stinker. Throughout the entire second half, Los Angeles looked flat, discouraged, and afraid to attack. Their offense was putrid once again by failing to reach the 100 point mark for the second time this postseason.

A variety of factors can be attributed to this pathetic offensive production. One can say that Anthony Davis’ lack of aggressiveness is at fault. His box score numbers look great, 25 points and 14 rebounds, but he could’ve hurt the Houston Rockets so much more. He settled for too many jump shots and was clearly bothered by PJ Tucker’s excellent defense.

Here’s an interesting nugget from that game courtesy of ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry:

Sure, Tucker is strong like an oak tree, but Davis is a 6’10 253lb forward with guard skills. He can take most defenders off the dribble and is tall enough to finish over any Rockets starter (The Rockets’ tallest starter measured 6’7). Davis should do much more of his damage in the paint.

Let’s move to another issue: LeBron James going scoreless in the 4th quarter. As the leader of this team and as one of the greatest players of all time, LeBron’s passiveness in the 4th is simply inexcusable. He took 7 total shots in the second half and only 3 in the 4th.

The best player in the world should lead the way for his team and set the example. We expect more from him, especially against the Rockets.

Here’s the biggest issue in the game, Frank Vogel’s decision to play Rajon Rondo for 25 minutes. That’s 20 minutes too many in my book. Notably, Rondo had not played in the playoffs as he was recovering from an injury and clearly was not in rhythm.

Rondo finished with 8 points and 1 assist while shooting 3-9 from the field. The backup guard finished with a -10 and the Rockets were delighted every time he was on the floor. He was getting beat on the perimeter and Houston didn’t even bother guarding him on the three-point line.

Even before his injury, Rondo’s impact on the team was a negative one. With the former league-leader in assists on the floor, the Lakers offensive rating ranked 16th in the league. With Rondo off the floor, the Laker offense ranked 7th in the league.

On the other side of the floor, Rondo again was a liability for LA. The team ranked 9th on defense with him on the floor and with Rondo off the floor they ranked 3rd. Rajon Rondo is a negative player on both ends of the court.

But my main issue with Rondo’s heavy minute workload is the fact that it took away minutes from LA’s big men. The purple and gold’s size is their main advantage in this series but, for some reason, decided to go smaller.

Javale McGee only played 13 minutes and Dwight Howard saw the floor for 11 minutes of action. What were the consequences? The Rockets and the Lakers both had 41 rebounds. I wrote about how important rebounding was for the Lakers’ title pursuit.

To only have 41 rebounds against a team that allows its opponent to grab 48.8 per game in the playoffs is inexcusable. Those are the consequences of not playing your big men nearly enough. The Los Angeles Lakers average 46 rebounds per game in the playoffs and they did not take advantage of their size superiority.

Next. Free agents to replace Rondo if he leaves. dark

Overall, I think the Los Angeles Lakers will be fine. I expect them to make adjustments and to come to their senses on their size advantage over these Rockets. And for the love of everything, don’t play Rondo for more than 10 minutes. Please.