The LeBron James-Rajon Rondo pairing got off to a rocky start. The Lakers struggled mightily last season in the minutes that they shared together, as Rondo's struggles as a shooter made him an odd fit next to the ball-dominant James.
The fit has been much cleaner this season. With shooting around the two of them, their mutual basketball IQ has made the duo extremely dangerous offensively. The Lakers have outscored opponents by a staggering 17.4 points per 100 possessions with the two of them on the court, per Cleaning the Glass, and plays like this show why.
Rondo got a rebound and ran a fastbreak during Sunday's Lakers game against the Atlanta Hawks. James was open near the basket for an alley-oop. Rondo saw it, and more importantly, he knew his defender saw it as well, so he faked the pass, got the defender to bite, and went for a layup of his own. James, jokingly, tried to block the shot. Apparently he really wanted those two points.
This is the sort of thing that would typically happen in a blowout, but the Hawks actually made this a very competitive game. The Lakers pulled it out, 101-96, and if anything, that makes the moment that much more impressive. Rondo and James are so good that they can pull off shenanigans like this in the middle of meaningful games.
That is the sort of freedom that 23-3 teams have. If anything, winning is hardly the challenge for the Lakers right now. Staying engaged is. If having fun on plays like this helps keep this train moving, then why not joke around every now and then? It's not as though they are in danger of losing their top spot in the Western Conference. Their 4 1/2-game cushion for the top spot doesn't appear likely to go away any time soon.