Without LeBron James for much of the third quarter and all of the fourth, Ivica Zubac and Rajon Rondo carried the Los Angeles Lakers to a 127-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.
As James slipped in the third quarter and was eventually ruled out of the game with a strained groin, the Warriors made a furious run and a 19-point Lakers lead was quickly down to two.
Stephen Curry sparked the Warriors with back-to-back threes on what otherwise was a relatively quiet night, but the Lakers stayed composed under the circumstances, led by Rondo. Along with Rondo’s two field goals, his assists to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lance Stephenson keyed a 7-2 run to close the third quarter.
To start the fourth, Rondo and Zubac dominated the first five minutes as the Lakers went a 12-3 run to re-establish their double-digit lead and never looked back.
In his third consecutive start, Zubac finished with 18 points (9-of-10 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds and 2 blocks in 31 minutes. Rondo, who recently returned from hand surgery, recorded 15 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists in just 23 minutes.
With initial reports of James’ injury being positive, the Lakers took another step forward in a hostile environment without the best player in the league to help close out the game.
At 20-14 and in fourth place in the Western Conference standings, the Lakers are slowly becoming a team that could strike fear in opponents come April.
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