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Rajon Rondo becoming the x-factor that could propel Lakers to NBA Championship

Playoff Rondo is back!

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets - Game Three Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers were without Rajon Rondo for their first 13 games in the bubble due to his broken thumb.

Returning for the start of the Lakers second-round series against the Houston Rockets, Rondo has been a huge reason the Lakers have won back-to-back games after dropping Game 1 against the James Harden-led side.

Rondo has played over 24 minutes in each of the three games. In said games, the Lakers have been 25 points better with the veteran point guard on the court in terms of +/-.

As the Rockets play small ball, typically keeping their entire starting five under 6-foot-10, the Lakers have turned to Rondo as a crucial factor for production. He’s delivered, averaging 13.0 points, 7.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

It’s more than just his numbers though — it’s his efficiency.

Rondo is shooting over 50% from the field and 40% from deep, averaging 2.0 threes per game. The Lakers typically force Anthony Davis and LeBron James to combine for over 60 points in order to have a chance.

Even then, one of the favorites to win the title needs more than just those two. Danny Green and Markieff Morris have stepped up, earning themselves minutes.

But no Laker outside of their two stars has been as impactful as Rondo to start the series. His 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting were the difference-maker in Game 3, one that would’ve come down to the wire had Rondo’s fourth-quarter heroics not been a thing.

Rondo scored eight straight points (going on an 8-0 run by himself) with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. That was huge and pushed the game out of reach, taking the Lakers lead from one to nine in a matter of 70 seconds.

Rondo been a fearless weapon for Los Angeles, which is no surprise given his days as the Celtics’ starting point guard when they made the NBA Finals twice, winning one title. He could be the exact player Anthony Davis needs by his side to claim his first championship.

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