Davis, James power Lakers to inaugural NBA Cup crown

Davis, James power Lakers to inaugural NBA Cup crown

LeBron James (#23) of the LA Lakers drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers during the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

LeBron James (#23) of the LA Lakers drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers during the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

The Los Angeles Lakers, fueled by a monster game from Anthony Davis, beat the upstart Indiana Pacers 123-109 to win the first edition of the NBA in-season tournament on Saturday.

Davis scored 41 points and pulled down 20 rebounds, while superstar LeBron James added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the 17-time NBA champion Lakers, who added the first NBA Cup to the club trophy case.

For the league’s all-time leading scorer James, it was a brand-new accolade in the 21st season of a career that has included four NBA titles and four NBA Most Valuable Player awards.

The 38-year-old got the nod as MVP of the tournament.

“We made history,” James said as he celebrated on 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.”

Anthony Davis (L) and LeBron James of the LA Lakers talk to the media after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

Anthony Davis (L) and LeBron James of the LA Lakers talk to the media after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

Anthony Davis (L) and LeBron James of the LA Lakers talk to the media after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

Led by Davis and James, the Lakers out-muscled the Pacers, never letting them get their high-octane offense to fully fire.

They out-scored the Pacers 86-44 in the paint and got the better of them on the boards 55-32.

“We wanted to be the first to win this,” Davis said. “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 Lakers completed an unbeaten run through the tournament, which started with all 30 NBA teams drawn into six groups for round-robin play.

LA Lakers players celebrate after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

LA Lakers players celebrate after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

LA Lakers players celebrate after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas, U.S., December 9, 2023. /CFP

All games, except Saturday’s final, counted toward the regular-season standings, and James said the Lakers’ performance as the event ramped up the intensity in what can be a lackluster part of the long NBA season would only help them when the time comes to make a playoff push.

“I think every moment we grew,” James said. “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.”

The Pacers also came into the Cup title game unbeaten, having toppled the top two Eastern Conference Teams, Boston and Milwaukee, in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Source(s): AFP

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