Rajon Rondo is doing what so many league executives didn’t think was possible after last year’s debacle in Dallas. He is making people remember what was so brilliant about him in the first place. Put him with talent, particularly with a scoring big man and a scoring wing and Rondo is in celebration mode as he surveys the court and dissects the opponents with his scoop assist, or dribble and dish, or floater in the lane.
Tonight in Charlotte, he was so Rondo. Celtics Rondo. Champion Rondo. He had 5 assists in the first quarter. 3 assists in the second quarter. 7 assists in the 3rd quarter. His 20th assist was an inbound layup for Rudy Gay to tie the game after the Kings blew a 17 point lead. His 20th assist sent the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Kings reverted to the unlovable loser Kings of seasons past. As if blowing that lead wasn’t enough Sacramento Kings truth serum, the Kings defense, which is bottom of the league bad, 76ers and Lakers bad, quit.
Frank Kaminsky got off a three point shot to give the Hornets the lead after Rudy Gay opened the overtime with a jumper. The Kings defense turned Jeremy Lin into Damian Lillard, offering zero resistance to Lin, who has never been a consistent finisher in traffic. But he was tonight. Linsanity was back.
Lin’s driving layup countered a brutal couple of minutes when the Hornets and Kings threw up bricks. When Lin made a step back jump shot to give the Hornets a four point lead, and the victory, Rondo’s performance once again was wasted.
It’s the narrative to the Rondo year. Assists, turnovers, losing.
The Kings haven’t been to the playoffs in eight seasons. On one side of the ball, they have the talent. DeMarcus Cousins is the best offensive center in the NBA. No matter what you think of Rudy Gay and the hysterical underachievement of his career, he is better than 60% of wing players. He is still a scorer. Rondo makes everyone on this roster better. Everyone.
But the Kings defense is ridiculously awful.
- Points allowed: 28th
- Field Goal Percentage defense: 30th
- Turnovers: 3rd most
Despite it all, Rondo and George Karl have developed a partnership because Karl has allowed Rondo to be Rondo. He hasn’t inhibited him and the results have been less about the scoreboard and more about Rondo, the talent
Yes, Rondo is back.
But the Kings? Not so much.
photo via llananba