Rondo is making his presence felt on the Clippers
April 15, 2021
By Eric Lambkins II Sports Reporter
When the Clippers recently traded Lou Williams to Atlanta for Rajon Rondo some basketball experts questioned the move, Now, it may have helped both teams, especially the Clippers. The Clippers may have found the leader they have been looking for. Against the Suns last week he proved to be the difference. The Suns came into the game with a seven game winning streak. The Clippers snapped streak and silenced their trash talking. After a pair of flagrant fouls and ejections, several technical fouls, and a ton of chippy trash talk, the Clippers eclipsed the blazing Phoenix Suns, 113-103. If the Clippers are to take the next step in their quest of winning their first championship, they'll need the toughness, IQ, and tenacity of Rajon Rondo.
"Playoff Rondo," a moniker earned by the guard's raised level of play during multiple playoff runs, was in full effect. With a game-high +24, his fingerprints, IQ, and toughness fill the void that the Clippers have desperately been missing. Rondo added to the dramatic dialogue between the two teams when he gave Chris Paul an earful after dropping a 3-pointer after Paul left him unguarded.
Paul and Rondo have been at odds since during their careers. The Clippers forced a turnover in the 4th quarter with 5:45 left to play after Rondo called out the play the Suns intended to run. After the game, Rondo was asked about the heady, defensive play. Rondo refused to refer to Paul by name and opted to refer to him only by number.
"I mean they yelled it. No. 3 on the other team yelled it out quickly and loud and I just kind of read it back to my teammates. It was the same play they ran the night before against Utah, so our coaching staff did a hell of a job scouting and understanding what you do to take away that play in the fourth quarter. And like I said we were all on the same page, all five of us on the defensive end, able to get a stop."
Rondo galvanized the Clippers after Patrick Beverly was ejected for elbowing Paul. Beverly, one of the league's notorious players, was tossed in the fourth quarter after hitting Paul with a forearm shiver to quell a fast break. Marcus Morris later joined Beverly in the locker room when he was ejected for trash-talking in the game's waning moments.
In the 20 minutes played, and in just his third game with the Clippers, Rondo had a season-high 15 points, a 9 to 1 assist-turnover ratio, and reminded Paul of who "Playoff Rondo" is.
Clipper coach Tyronn Lue was effusive in his praise of Rondo. "He was great," Lue said. "Doing everything we thought he was going to do when he came out here. Just controlled the game, controlled the tempo, making some great passes for guys to have open shots and layups. And defensively, he was great as well. He was talking and communicating."
There is much basketball left to play, however, it looks like trading for Rondo will bode well for the Clippers. With Rondo on the court, the potential of the Clippers is beginning to manifest. Seeing where this team finishes is well worth watching.