First the Lakers learned they’d be playing without three starters on the second night of back-to-back games, an ill LeBron James joining injured Anthony Davis and Danny Green on the sideline.
“We expect to win,” coach Frank Vogel told reporters before the game.
Then Kyle Kuzma had a season-high 36 points and with the rest of the Lakers cast pulled out a 125-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
After the game it came to light that Rajon Rondo had injured the ring finger on his right hand and X-rays came back negative for a break. Evidently, he also had an issue with Thunder guard Chris Paul.
The Lakers said that Rondo, who started in place of James and had a near triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, has been listed as day to day. The Lakers play again Monday night at Staples Center against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rondo said he was injured in the first half. He started the game shooting six for six from the field, but finished 10 of 22, including one of six from three-point range.
“I don’t know what really happened,” Rondo said. “I looked it and it was just hurt.”
Rondo wouldn’t share any details about what happened between him and Paul.
Regardless, Rondo and his teammates took care of business, building a 32-point lead that pushed the Lakers to their eight consecutive win.
Kuzma, who started in place of Davis (bruised buttocks), made nine of 13 shots in the first half and 15 of 24 in the game.
Seven players score in double figures, four off the bench. Backup center Dwight Howard had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, while reserves Quinn Cook (13 points), Troy Daniels (12) and Alex Caruso (11) also reached double figures.
“We have great depth,” Vogel said. “We have a group that go out and defend for 48 minutes. You always have a chance. Then it’s about the offensive rhythm, and the way Rondo’s been playing, the way some of our wings have been playing, I felt like we had a strong chance of winning the game.”
Though James played against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night and had 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in 32:16, he has been dealing with his illness for several days.
“His chest was burning all throughout the game,” Vogel said. “We had to get him out early in the first quarter. I was using timeouts to get him rest. But most of my timeouts was just centered around just helping him fight through the chest cold. So I knew that with the quick turnaround and recovery time, I think there was a chance he missed tonight.”
Green has a sore right hip and is also day to day.