The play unfolded in a flash and then seemed to suddenly slow down as LeBron James and Rajon Rondo connected on an electric fastbreak.
It resulted in one of the season-high 10 assists for Rondo, another sign that the Lakers point guard is rounding into form in his fourth game of the season after being sidelined because of a mild right calf strain.
The play began after Oklahoma City’s Dennis Schroder missed a shot and the basketball was loose in the lane. James poked the basketball forward, the ball landing in the hands of Rondo.
The two of them broke out of the pack and took off down court, Rondo dribbling and James running at full speed with just one Thunder defender backpedaling ahead of them.
Rondo stopped near the three-point line and threw a one-handed, half-hook lob pass over Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the now leaping James for a dunk.
“Yeah, I knew I had to get it over Shai. He’s a 6-5, athletic guard,” Rondo said after the Lakers defeated the Thunder 112-107 on Tuesday night at Staples Center. “I knew he would try to time it and jump, so I just tried to get it over his arms and he took care of the rest.”
James also had 10 assists, which was part of a triple-double that included 25 points and 11 rebounds.
But this time, he was the recipient of a pass from Rondo as the second quarter was coming to a close.
“The only thing I knew for sure was that the clock was running down,” James said. “And Schroder, he shot a jumper and it was short and it was a foot race between, I forgot, either [Terrance] Ferguson or somebody. And I just tried to beat him to the ball. Once I was able to beat him to the ball, I kicked it out to ‘Do’ [Rondo]. Listen, me and Do, when it comes to IQ and being cerebral out on the floor, we don’t need to say anything to each other. Do just threw it up there and I used my abilities at 34, almost 35, to go get it.”
In many ways, Rondo was on his passing game against the Thunder.
He threw a behind-the-back, no-look pass to Anthony Davis from the lane out to the three-point line in the second quarter, allowing his big man to get an easy look at a three-pointer that went in.
Rondo threw a no-look pass to Davis on the break in the third quarter for a dunk while he was fouled.
“It’s a sign that guys are making shots for me. Other than that, I can’t put too much into it,” Rondo said. “LeBron had 10 [assists] as well. I’m happy, more so is the team collectively moving the ball. I want to take pride in taking care of the ball tonight.”
Rondo played a season-high 27 minutes and 28 seconds. He was three-for-10 shooting from the field for eight points.
His game is slowly coming back, but Rondo said it’s still going to take some time.
Coach Frank Vogel likes what he saw from Rondo against the Thunder.
“Rondo had 10 assists, but Rajon’s statistics are not measured on the stat sheet,” Vogel said. “It’s measured in swag.
“He just gives us some confidence and an air about us that we know we’re going into battle with a heck of a basketball player. He just helps our swag.”