While the Los Angeles Lakers relied on Kyle Kuzma to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo and had LeBron James disrupting Brook Lopez out on the perimeter, the Milwaukee Bucks countered by sagging off Rajon Rondo and daring him to beat them from deep.
Rondo, who entered the night shooting a career-high 40 percent behind the arc, certainly was happy to attempt doing so. He shot seven 3-pointers within the first six minutes of the game, tying a career high in attempts.
Rondo missed his first five before finally scratching. The Staples Center crowd groaned with each miss, then erupted once Rondo connected. “If it’s the right shot, it’s the right shot. Take it,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said of his message to Rondo.
“Whether you’re open or not, that doesn’t always determine if it’s the right shot. It’s whether it the pass comes to you in rhythm, from penetration, if the ball is moved a little bit. We don’t want him just dribbling down and shooting threes every time. Even if he’s wide open. I thought most of the ones he took in the first half were good shots.
“They were swings or kick-outs from teammates. If he doesn’t take that, what else are we going to get? There’s five guys in the paint. We feel very confident he can knock those down. He shoots them all the time in practice.”
Rondo finished just 4-of-12 from three-point territory. Despite the poor start to his night, the 33-year-old did have a stretch where he connected on 3-of-4 attempts.
“Shooters shoot,” Rondo deadpanned after the loss. “I was open, so I had to shoot it.”
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