The Los Angeles Lakers emerged triumphant in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, clinching a decisive 123-109 victory against the formidable Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
Anthony Davis delivered a stellar performance, recording an impressive 41 points and securing 20 rebounds, while LeBron James added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the 17-time NBA champions, who now proudly hold the first NBA Cup in their trophy case.
James, the league’s all-time leading scorer, not only celebrated a brand new accolade but was also named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament at the age of 38. “We made history,” James expressed jubilantly on the court with his teammates. “Anytime you’re on the right side of history, you take it. The first in-season tournament belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers.”
The Lakers’ dominant run through the tournament was characterized by an unbeaten streak, showcasing their prowess against all opponents. The team out-muscled the Pacers, particularly excelling in the paint with an 86-44 scoring advantage and a commanding 55-32 lead on the boards.
Anthony Davis, reflecting on the accomplishment, stated, “We wanted to be the first to win this. We know it’s not the real thing, but we keep taking steps in the right direction. The first to do it, we’ll take it.”
The tournament, featuring a round-robin format with all 30 NBA teams, provided a unique competitive edge to regular-season play. James highlighted the intensity of the games, emphasizing that the Lakers’ 7-0 record in the tournament would contribute significantly to their performance in the long NBA season.
“I think every moment we grew,” James remarked. “The in-season tournament, 7-0, it’s been high-intensity games and we’ve just grown. I feel like guys have felt a lot more comfortable in their roles. We’ve had a pretty good understanding of rotations. You know who you’re going to be playing with, and you know what you guys want to do out on the floor.”
Despite making just two of 13 three-point attempts, the Lakers’ dominance inside the paint and defensive prowess proved decisive. The Pacers, averaging over 128 points per game, were held to 36.8 percent shooting.
As the Lakers savor this historic victory, Anthony Davis looks ahead to returning to the regular-season rhythm, stating, “Even though it’s a big performance, it’s another game, and we’ve got to continue to get going starting back on Tuesday.”