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Pelicans making strides as Rajon Rondo given green light to ‘run the show’

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is perhaps one of the most enigmatic personalities of the sport. Players love him, coaches… eh, not so much.

So how does a coach combat such a brilliant mind as the floor general? He doesn’t and that’s the conclusion New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry took on Saturday night, giving his point man free reign — which resulted in a 17-assist masterpiece and an important Game 1 road win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Coach let me run the show a little bit,” said Rondo after the win, according to William Guillory of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I was trying to stay on the same page with him, we had a lot of communication in the fourth quarter as far as what he wanted to run, and we got the job done together.”

Rondo struggled shooting the ball, making only three of his nine attempts from the field, but made up with his floor game, snatching eight rebounds, and coming up with a steal to pair with his 17 assists.

His teammates lauded his cerebral approach to the game, which they have seen for an entire season since the mercurial point guard landed with the Pelicans early in the offseason.

“He has a different mindset,” said Anthony Davis. “Even when they were calling out plays (Saturday), he was telling us what it was in our version before they were able to run it. He’s definitely mentally locked in, and the way he played (Saturday) — 17 assists, getting guys involved, talking, making sure we huddle up after free throws, making sure we know what we’re doing after timeouts. He’s just in a different mode, and he’s playing well.”

The 12-year veteran has posted healthy averages of 8.3 points and 8.2 assists per game in 2017-18.