LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Plenty of players have had bumpy experiences at the N.B.A.’s restart at Walt Disney World. Rajon Rondo and Markieff Morris, two key reserves for the Los Angeles Lakers, would count themselves among that group.
Rondo, the team’s backup point guard, broke his right thumb during a practice on July 12 and left the league’s so-called bubble so that he could have surgery and recover. Morris, a forward who signed with the Lakers in February, shortly before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, has been laboring to unearth his rhythm.
The Lakers have championship hopes in the form of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, their twin stars. But if they want to advance in the postseason, their supporting cast needs to start producing with consistency. Depth is an issue — one underscored by the absence of Avery Bradley, their top perimeter defender, who opted not to participate in the restart.
For one game, at least, James and Davis got the help they needed. In the Lakers’ 117-109 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in the Western Conference semifinals, Morris, 31, stretched the floor with his outside shooting while Rondo, 34, was a whirl of activity. The win evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece ahead of Game 3 on Tuesday night.
“That’s what the playoffs are about,” the Lakers’ Danny Green said. “Your superstars are going to play well. It’s what your others do.”
The others he referenced, the team’s supporting cast, have always been a concern with these Lakers, who have endured no small amount of turmoil this season. In that sense, their loss to the Rockets in Game 1 on Friday was true to form. The Rockets used their small lineup to space the floor and create oodles of open shots.
Rondo, who had four turnovers in that game, struggled, though perhaps for good reason: He had not pla