Rondo takes up shooting mantle

Los Angeles point guard Rajon Rondo taking one of 13 shots against the Phoenix Suns. He made nine field goals for a season-high 23 points off the bench to help the Lakers ease to their 40th win this season. PHOTO: REUTERS
Los Angeles point guard Rajon Rondo taking one of 13 shots against the Phoenix Suns. He made nine field goals for a season-high 23 points off the bench to help the Lakers ease to their 40th win this season.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Lakers know exactly what Rajon Rondo can do when it comes to shooting the ball, having watched him regularly in practice.

The pass-first point guard was encouraged to take on more shots on Monday night, instead of just setting up his teammates, and he was mindful of the advice.

The result was a season-high 23 points by the 13-year veteran as the Lakers cruised to a 125-100 National Basketball Association home victory over the Phoenix Suns.

"He's always had that confidence but he wants to get everyone involved. We've been on him to shoot those shots and he showed you all what he can do," forward Anthony Davis told ESPN. "He does it in practice all the time."

Rondo's 15 points in the second quarter was only the fifth time in his career that he has scored 15 or more in a single period.

Davis scored a game-high 25 points and added 10 rebounds, while LeBron James had 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, but also committed a game-high eight turnovers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with 13 points and Avery Bradley added 12 for the Western Conference leaders, who have won four of their last five games to improve to 40-12.

Dwight Howard contributed 14 points and 15 boards.

"It was a great game for our bench. Rajon had great pace all night and he was taking all the looks he was getting. Dwight controlled the glass," said James.

Mikal Bridges had 18 points and six rebounds for the Suns (21-33), who lost for the sixth time in seven games. Cheick Diallo had 15 points, while Ricky Rubio and Jevon Carter chipped in 13 apiece.

A third-quarter surge allowed the Lakers to seize control. They turned a nine-point half-time edge into a 90-75 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Phoenix got no closer than 14 from that point on.

"We dared Rondo to shoot from the perimeter and he made us pay," Suns coach Monty Williams said of the decisive second quarter.

Los Angeles shot 57.8 per cent from the floor to 47.2 per cent for Phoenix in the first half. For the game, the Lakers converted 51.6 per cent to 42.1 per cent for the Suns.

The Lakers also dominated the boards by outrebounding the Suns 59-29, including 16-3 on the offensive glass.

The Lakers have captured all three meetings against the Suns and clinched the season series for the third time in a row.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2020, with the headline 'Rondo takes up shooting mantle'. Print Edition | Subscribe