When opposing coaches discuss what’s hard to stop when playing the Lakers, they often talk about their tempo.
During the last month, the Lakers’ pace has not been what they want it to be and that’s in mostly because they lost two of their top playmakers, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram, to injuries.
Overall this season, the Lakers’ quick tempo has been third-highest in the league. Since Rondo suffered a hand injury in mid-November, the Lakers’ pace has fallen by two possessions per game, which would drop it out of the top 10 for the entire league.
“We’ll kind of ease our way into it, feel some things out,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “But having another brilliant play-making point guard eventually once we get rolling again, yeah, I see the pace getting higher again.”
Rondo broke his hand on Nov. 14 and had surgery the next day. This week, the Lakers sent him on a rehabilitation assignment to the South Bay Lakers. They wanted him to be able to practice with a team while the Lakers completed their first East Coast trip.
Rondo has missed 17 games so far and could be back by the time the Lakers host the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.
At first, the Lakers’ turnovers shot up and their assists plummeted upon losing Rondo. Three times in the two weeks that followed, they had fewer than 20 assists, once only 10. And while they eventually improved in those areas, their pace has yet to recover. Seven of the Lakers’ 10 games with the slowest pace have come while Rondo has been out.