The NBA Cup has its first champion.
The Los Angeles Lakers won the inaugural In-Season Tournament on Saturday night, beating the Indiana Pacers 123-109 in the final in Las Vegas.
LeBron James took home the debut NBA In-Season Tournament MVP award after dropping 24 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the final. Anthony Davis dominated the title game, recording 41 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks in 41 minutes. Austin Reaves contributed 28 points off the bench.
James complimented Davis’ performance after the game, comparing him to Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal.
“I think AD was inspired … multiple blocks, multiple steals,” James said. “AD was dominant, big time.”
The Lakers withstood a late push from Indiana in the fourth quarter but outscored the Pacers 33-27 in the final frame.
“We made history,” said James about the title win. “Any time you’re on the right side of the history, you’ll take it. The first In-Season Tournament belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, and that will never be topped.”
For the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin led the team in scoring, dropping 20 apiece. Mathurin came off the bench, and the only other starter to contribute at least 13 points was Obi Toppin.
“This makes me want to play in more games that have some meaning to them,” said Haliburton postgame, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.
L.A. dominated in the paint, scoring 86 points compared to the Pacers’ 44. The Lakers also controlled the boards, bringing down 55 compared to Indiana’s 32. They did, however, struggle from three, shooting 2-of-13 as a team.
Los Angeles beat the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals and the New Orleans Pelicans in the semifinals. Indiana handled the Boston Celtics in the opening round, while taking care of the Milwaukee Bucks in the next stage. The semifinals were also played in Las Vegas.
Players on standard contracts for the Lakers will receive $500,000 in award money for the victory, while Pacers players get $200,000. Players on two-way deals will receive half of those amounts. The Lakers were also presented medals after the win.