LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the Los Angeles Lakers to the first NBA Cup, but the season’s major goal was still ahead.
James and Davis led the Lakers to a 123-109 win against tournament favorites Indiana in the NBA’s first in-season tournament on Saturday.
“Anytime you’re right in history, you take it.”
In the title game, Davis led the Lakers with 41 points and 20 rebounds. James was named Most Valuable Player of the event, which was created to spice up the NBA regular season, with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
James, the league’s all-time top scorer, said the Lakers’ 7-0 run through the competition, which began with all 30 NBA clubs divided into six groups for round-robin play, proved they could make a strong postseason push.He warned that it was too early to talk about May and June and the Lakers’ chances of adding to their 17 NBA titles, tied with the Celtics for the most.
James, who has four championship rings, said, “I think that’s thinking too far down the road. “We want to remember it’s December.
We like where we are, but we want to keep working on our habits and being healthy.
I’d take it now, in December. Accepting, but not looking forward to May and June.
“Ultimately, it’s like the regular season. Game 22, 23. I must move on, he said.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated scheduling will be considered when improving the new tournament.
Providing scheduling security for teams that didn’t advance from group play, who had to “essentially schedule games at the last minute,” would be the biggest worry.
It’s the start of a three-game Texas swing that will also feature two games in San Antonio against the Spurs and their sensational rookie Victor Wembanyama.
James said their performance in the tournament, especially in quarter-finals against the Phoenix Suns and the rout of the New Orleans Pelicans in the semi-finals, showed the Lakers were getting where they need to be on the defensive end.
“Our defensive intensity, in order for us to win and win at the highest level, we have to defend,” he said. “We’ve been doing that over the last few weeks.”
The Pacers may find the pivot to the regular season jarring after their Cinderella run in the in-season tournament.
Despite their high-octane offense, keyed by guard Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers chances of emerging from the East to challenge for a franchise first NBA title have been largely dismissed.
But the young, hungry team knocked off the top two Eastern Conference outfits in Boston and Milwaukee in the NBA Cup knockout rounds, and Haliburton was gutted after the loss to the Lakers.