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Rajon Rondo smoothly orchestrates Lakers’ reserves in choppy win over Heat

Lakers guard Rajon Rondo passes during the fourth quarter of a 124-114 victory over the Miami Heat.
Lakers guard Rajon Rondo passes during the fourth quarter of a 124-114 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Friday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

They put the basketball into the hands of Rajon Rondo when the Lakers needed a director in Game 2 and let him orchestrate the action.

As it turned out, Rondo was just one of the reserves who delivered for the Lakers during a choppy 124-114 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night at AdventHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near here.

Rondo joined bench mates Alex Caruso, Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma to combine for 39 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.

They all played their roles the right way and that went a long way in helping the Lakers take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals, leaving them two wins from winning the franchise’s 17th championship.

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Rondo led the way for the reserves, scoring 16 points on five-for-nine shooting, three-for-four on three-pointers, adding 10 assists and four rebounds.

Morris had six points and five rebounds, Kuzma 11 points and two rebounds, and Caruso had six points, two rebounds and two assists.

“We just want to play well off the bench,” Rondo said in a postgame videoconference. “That’s our mind-set the entire playoffs, coming in giving our starters a lift, giving those guys a break, coming in and being solid, taking care of the ball [and] it starts with me and getting guys good looks at the rim each time.

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“Defensively, we want to come down, try to get stops and push the break.”

With those 10 assists, Rondo moved up in the record books.

He has 1,067 assists in the playoffs, sixth all-time, as he passed Larry Bird (1,062) and Steve Nash (1,061) along the way.

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Highlights from the Lakers’ 124-114 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

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“Coming from where I’m from, obviously I didn’t grow up with ‘Hoop Dreams.’ Passing the names I passed in these playoffs, Kobe [Bryant], Steve and Larry, I couldn’t even dream of that opportunity,” Rondo said. “So, I’m very fortunate and blessed to be able to continue to play the game for this long and to play [with] a lot of great teammates that has made shots for me. That’s a team award. It is an individual stat, but at the end of the day, you have to do it with your teammates. That’s what makes me play this game.”

Because the Heat would never go away easily, the Lakers had to stay the course until the final few seconds of the game.

And it was fitting that Rondo was right in the middle of the action, using his passing as a weapon.

The Lakers’ reserves had key assists down the stretch. Rondo passed to LeBron James for an assist that gave the Lakers a 117-104 lead.

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Caruso then hit Anthony Davis for a dunk and a 119-106 lead.

Ten of the best images from the Lakers’ win over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Orlando, Fla., on Friday.

Rondo found James again for a basket and he found Kentavious Caldwell-Pope open for a three-pointer that gave the Lakers a 124-111 lead.

“The biggest thing we’re trying to accomplish is playing as a group, playing as a team,” Kuzma said. “We all have our different nights and that’s how we like to play. It’s fun out there.

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“We try to play with tempo and most importantly we try to get stops, ignite our offense. That’s the biggest thing the second unit is supposed to do. We come in and pick up the game.”


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