Lakers’ Rajon Rondo out 4-5 weeks after finger surgery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo will be sidelined at least a month after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament on his right ring finger.

Rondo sprained his finger during Los Angeles’ surprising Christmas Day victory at Golden State. He missed the Lakers’ last-second loss at Sacramento on Thursday night along with LeBron James, who strained his groin against the Warriors.

Rondo had surgery Friday, and he is expected to fully recover in four to five weeks, according to the team. Rondo initially hoped to play through the pain in his troublesome shooting hand, but decided it would be impossible without surgery.

“He tried to pick up a basketball and palm it, and it was killing him,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “His decision was based on, ‘All right, I can fight through this and see how much I can do, or I just get it done ASAP and come back 100 percent and try to make a late-season push.’ That was what all parties decided was the best option.”

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The Lakers also played without center JaVale McGee on Friday night when they faced the Clippers in the first game of the season against their Staples Center co-tenants. McGee missed his seventh consecutive game with an upper respiratory infection.

The Lakers (20-15) have vaulted back into playoff contention with the Western Conference’s fifth-best record, a half-game behind the Clippers (20-14).

Rondo is averaging 8.4 points, 6.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds while providing solid leadership in his first season with the Lakers, who signed him as a free agent in July.

But the veteran has appeared in only 14 games because of a three-game suspension for fighting and a 17-game absence after breaking a bone in his right hand, an injury that also required surgery.

He only returned from his broken hand Dec. 21, playing in three games in five days before getting hurt again.

Lonzo Ball is likely to remain the Lakers’ starting point guard in Rondo’s absence. Brandon Ingram also assumes a larger playmaking role without Rondo or James.

The Lakers haven’t speculated on how long James will be sidelined. The four-time NBA MVP turns 34 on Sunday.

McGee is doing conditioning work and lifting weights after the illness badly sapped his strength, but the big man isn’t ready to return.

“He looks a lot better,” Walton said about McGee. “Just his overall energy level looks better. … He’s starting to put on some weight again and looks a lot better, but we’ll be cautious with him.”

German rookie Isaac Bonga was activated to face the Clippers.

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