For those rare Dallas Mavericks fans who didn’t agree with the Dec. 18 trade which brought Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics, he likely won some of them over during Friday’s 102-98 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rondo was at his finest at American Airlines Center, dishing out seven assists, collecting eight rebounds, scoring a season-high 21 points and distributing some awe-inspiring crowd-pleasing passes that brought back memories of Jason Kidd.
“He’s doing better every game,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said of Rondo. “He’s getting used to the guys, the guys are getting used to him, and we’re making adjustments we need to make, so he’s doing well.
“I liked his aggression a lot tonight and I think it’s important that he’s a threat to score, because that’s going to open up more things, and he did a great job of that tonight.’’
It was Rondo’s fourth game with the Mavs, and they’re now 2-2 since his arrival. More importantly, the eight-year veteran joined the Mavs as a pass-first point guard, but against the Lakers he attempted a game-high 17 shots and made 10 of them.
“We need him to do that,’’ said Chandler Parsons, who scored 12 points. “We can’t have teams sagging off him and going under screens and him not being a threat, so he’s got to be aggressive.
“He’s in the gym working on his shot every single day. We want him to shoot the ball, we want him to look to score, and then once he does that everything else will open up and then become easier.’’
Rondo’s previous season high were the 20 points he scored against Oklahoma City on Nov. 12 while he was still with the Celtics.
“I was able to get into the paint,’’ Rondo said. “Coach been talking all week as far as me getting into the paint and being aggressive and taking my shots and then making the right passes, so I did a little bit of both tonight.’’
Early in the game, Rondo lobbed two passes up to center Tyson Chandler, who gathered them in and dunked them all in one motion. Later on, Rondo fired a long pass, which Chandler caught with one hand and banked it in.
Forward Charlie Villanueva said of Rondo: “He might throw a pass at any moment in the game, so you have to be ready.’’
Now that Rondo’s isn’t shy about taking a jumper, the Mavs know he’ll be ready for anything defenses throw at him.
“I think every game he plays with us he’s going to get more comfortable,’’ Parsons said. “He’s a professional, he’s been doing this for a long time.
“So the more action he gets, the more he gets to know us, the better off he’s going to be.’’