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NBA in-season tournament: Lakers muscle through Pacers to win inaugural event ‣

NBA in-season tournament: Lakers muscle through Pacers to win inaugural event

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter in the championship game of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament at T-Mobile Arena on December 09, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Anthony Davis could not be stopped in Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers won a new kind of trophy on Saturday at the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament.

Led by vintage performances from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers overwhelmed the Indiana Pacers to win the tournament’s championship game 123-109 in Las Vegas. The game will not count for either team’s regular-season record, unlike every other game in the event.

James was named Most Valuable Player for the tournament, adding another entry to one of the most sprawling trophy cases in NBA history.

The Lakers were the in-season tournament’s best team from start to finish. They took care of business every night in group play after being gifted the weakest group in the league, with three of the bottom four teams in the West and a Phoenix Suns team missing Bradley Beal. They finished group play with a league-high +74 point differential.

The quarterfinal saw the Lakers win a close rematch with the Suns, then demolish the New Orleans Pelicans in the semifinal.

This game saw Anthony Davis bully the Pacers in the paint all night, especially after Pacers center Myles Turner fouled out. Davis finished with 41 points on 16-of-24 shooting with 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, while James added 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Those two players’ rebounding totals matched every player on the Pacers combined (31).

The Pacers simply didn’t have an answer for the Lakers under the basket. Consider that Los Angeles a) scored 86 points in the paint and b) made 27 free throws. Only 10 of their 123 points were scored on field goals outside the paint.

As the in-season tournament champions, every player and coach on the Lakers will receive $500,000 each. To LeBron James, it’s not much. To rookie Maxwell Lewis, who is making $1.1 million total this season, it’s potentially life-changing money.

As runners-up, the Pacers will also receive $200,000 each, in a rare example of everyone at the table winning big in Vegas.