This Series Is Over

The Rockets and Lakers played last night. Well, actually not really.

Jim Rome
September 11, 2020 - 11:26 am
LeBron James

USA Today

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The Rockets and Lakers played last night. Well, actually not really. I mean, not a complete game: because that game was over in the second quarter. Actually, if we’re being REAL…, that SERIES was over in the second quarter.

And yes, I know Houston was short-handed without Danuel House and I will get to that legend in a moment. He gets his own take. And I could do a whole take right now on James Harden and Russell Westbrook and what has happened to Houston. But let’s save that for another day. I’m a glass half-full guy and today is all about the positive.

That’s why last night was not the Danuel House Game. It was the Talen Horton-Tucker Game and it was another Playoff Rondo Game.

And that is saying something considering LeBron went for 16, 15, and 9, and Anthony Davis went for 29, 12, and 5, and they’re barely going to be mentioned in this take.

Because last night was all about THT and Rondo. First, who the hell is THT, and what the hell is he doing in a critical playoff game, snatching souls like that? That’s a damn good question:

Because THT was the 46th pick in last year’s draft. He’s 19 years old. He’s played in six games. Not six games in the playoffs. Not six games in the bubble. Six NBA games total.

And he checked into the crucial Game 4 in the second quarter. I can’t decide if that is totally awesome or totally disrespectful of the Rockets. Let’s call it a tie.

Because it is really cool to see a teenager getting some run on the big stage, but man, if you are the Rockets, you have to be pretty salty about that. The Lakers think so little of the Rockets that they’re running out a teenager, who’s barely played this year and they’re doing it in the second quarter of a game that could make the series 3-1 or 2-2.

Alex Caruso saw THT heading to check in and “It was like, ‘Well all right, here we go.’ I don’t have any doubt in his ability, but 19 years old playing against two MVPs in the playoffs — he played great. Played great.”

He sure as hell did. And he was fearless. He was in the game for seven minutes and took five shots. And the bench absolutely loved it. Here’s the highlight reel.

Bang a three, then fake the three and take a guy off the dribble and score in the lane. LeBron told him during a timeout: “Don’t think about bleep. Just play. We’ll cover you if you mess up.”

You didn’t have to tell THT twice. He didn’t think about bleep, he just played, and he messed around and had a triple single. In seven minutes, he had 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. He was plus nine in his seven minutes.  Seriously, who the hell is this guy.  Where the hell did he come from? What the hell was he doing on the floor, much less doing those things? That was absolutely awesome. 

And again, this is in the second quarter of a crucial Game 4 against the Rockets. So what is that about? Just another small body to shake things up or is Frank Vogel already planning for the Clippers? Or both?

Because the Lakers have adapted to the Rockets style of ball very, very well. They essentially said, you want to go small, we’ll go small, and we’ll do it better than you. And our version of small involves AD, Markieff Morris, LeBron James, KCP, and Danny Green. Oh, and THT, who’s 6’4 with a 7’1 wingspan.

And yet again, they locked up the Rockets. They held Houston to two fastbreak points. Two. And held James Harden to 2 of 11 from the field.

If you’re the Rockets, you have to be absolutely humiliated by just about everything from last night, but particularly THT coming in when he did. And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, there were a few more moments of humiliation left.

Like this, when after Houston had rallied to make it a five-point game with less than a minute to go, but Caruso hit a 3. 

The best part of that play isn’t the Bald Mamba running a dagger through Houston, it’s this tweet from Ben Golliver: Lakers’ Alex Caruso staves off Rockets’ rally with a corner three with 34.6 seconds left. Lakers 108-100. Rajon Rondo: “Ballgame! Ballgame!”

You have to love Rondo, I mean Playoff Rondo, shouting “Ballgame! Ballgame!” after Caruso hit that. You still want to tell me that Playoff Rondo isn’t real? It is the most real thing ever. 11 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists in 29 minutes.

When you hear guys talking about Rondo’s IQ and why they love him so much, it’s moments like that. Or its moments like him calling game. And if Rondo calling game wasn’t the worst moment for Houston, this definitely was.

 

That is Caruso stripping Eric Gordon in the paint, LeBron grabs the ball, throws it ahead to Rondo, and then Rondo goes off the glass back to LeBron for the alley-oop. The disrespect is strong with that one.

Throwing an alley-oop off the backboard with less than 30 seconds to go in a playoff game? Who even thinks of doing that, let alone actually does it?

That is a reason to go. You do that to the wrong team, you’re going to get a fist in the mouth. But Rondo doesn’t care. That’s why he’s the best. That’s why Playoff Rondo is an absolute legend. The only thing better than shouting “ball game! Ball game!” after the Caruso three is if Playoff Rondo shouted “series! Series!” after the alley-oop. Because it was. Ball game and series. Thanks for coming.