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James Harden reveals Rockets’ battle plan after Rajon Rondo’s 21-9 Game 3 effort

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The Los Angeles Lakers activated “Playoff Rondo,” as their spark plug Rajon Rondo went off for 21 points and nine assists to lead the team to a Game 3 win over the Houston Rockets. James Harden, who put up a near-triple-double with 33 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists on the night, argued stopping Rondo from going off won’t be Houston’s main intent:

“You can’t stop everything,” said Harden, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “We’ve got to stop – or try to stop – their main players and then not give their role players freebie looks and just open shots and feel-good baskets.”

Rondo was on fire, burying 8-of-11 from the floor and making every timely basket in the fourth quarter. Yet to strategize over what could easily be a fluke performance would be unwise for the Rockets.

After missing the entire first round, Rondo scored eight and 10 points in his other two appearances this series while playing similar minutes. Rondo is much more likely to be a factor defensively (pocketed five steals in Game 2) than offensively.

While Rondo was brilliant for the night, the real damage came by way of the LeBron James-Anthony Davis tandem, as the two stars combined for 62 points in Game 3. The two stars shot a combined 22-of-36 (61.1%) from the floor, a much more telling explanation for the Rockets’ result.

It’s also worth noting that James and Davis account for 21 of the Lakers’ 23 free throws. The other two? They came by way of Rajon Rondo.

The Rockets have likely caught on to the Lakers’ star-centric approach, but it’s a lot tougher to stop it than to point it out. However, James Harden isn’t wrong to let this Playoff Rondo performance go into the books, considering his team has more important issues at hand.