LAS VEGAS–The Los Angeles Lakers hit the jackpot on Saturday, December 9, capturing the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament with a crushing victory over the Indiana Pacers, 123-109 at T-Mobile Arena in Sin City.
Anthony Davis was absolutely dominating- scoring a whopping 41 points and 20 rebounds. In addition every Lakers player won a cool $500,000 as confetti fell and LeBron and Co. proudly raised the sleek gold Crown above their heads.
Anthony Davis was clutch and excellent in this career defining performance; the NBA Champ and member of the NBA’s top 75 players of All-Time might have earned the privilege of being immortalized with a gleaming bronze statue outside Crypto Arena one day in the future.
LeBron James was named the MVP for not only his continuing excellence in the tournament, but his seemingly defiance over Father Time. King James will turn 39 years old later this month. Players that age just don’t play the game at this level. In addition, his enthusiasm and boundless energy set the tone for his team.
The 21-year NBA veteran finished the tournament averaging 26.4 points, eight rebounds and 7.6 assists in seven total tournament games, but the four-time regular-season MVP saved his best for Las Vegas. James scored 30 points over the New Orleans Pelicans in Thursday’s semifinal. His 24 points and 11 rebounds were critical as the Lakers pulled away from Indiana for the championship.
It was the Purple and Golds size and smothering defense that the Pacers had no answers for. Nearly doubling Indiana’s paint points — 86 to 44. The rebounding margin was almost as big; the Lakers won it 55 to 32.
After watching Indiana Pacers star Point Guard Tyrese Haliburton knock out the Celtics and Bucks with brilliant performances, the Lakers decided that wasn’t going to happen to them. Though Haliburton finished with 20 points and 11 assists on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, he was unable to have his usual impact on the game.
Austin Reaves scored 28 points, 22 in the first half alone in the win.
Though the Lakers led for nearly the entire game, the scrappy Pacers kept finding ways to hang around, and had the deficit down to three in the middle of the fourth quarter at 102-99. A few minutes later it was 115-99, as the Lakers responded with an immediate 13-0 run to put the game away.
Davis was the Laker’s catalyst on this chilly gorgeous night in Vegas with four rejections and a dominant fourth quarter, which the Lakers desperately needed as the Pacers made one final run with under ten minutes left. Davis ended that run by attacking the basket and slamming a D’Angelo Russell pass to give the Lakers a ten-digit lead, all but ending the game.
James called the performance from his star teammate “Shaq-like.” He explained the importance of this tournament, focusing on this group and the iconic franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers being the first to win this tournament.
“This is the [first] in-season tournament… Records will be broken, but one thing that will never be broken is to be the first to do something,” LeBron said to ESPN’s Malika Andrews during the televised trophy ceremony. “And we’re the first champions of the in-season tournament, and nobody can ever top that, and it’s great to do it with a historical franchise and just a great cast of funny, engaged, competitive men over here.”