Anthony Davis and LeBron James power LA Lakers to inaugural NBA Cup crown

Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports via AP

  The Los Angeles Lakers, led by a stellar performance from Anthony Davis, secured a 123-109 victory over the Indiana Pacers to clinch the inaugural NBA in-season tournament.

Anthony Davis showcased his prowess with an impressive 41 points and 20 rebounds, while LeBron James contributed with 24 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers, a 17-time NBA champion, added the first NBA Cup to their club trophy case in a triumph at Las Vegas on Saturday night.

In the 21st season of his illustrious career, LeBron James, the league's all-time leading scorer, added a new accolade by securing the MVP title of the NBA in-season tournament. The Los Angeles Lakers, led by James and Anthony Davis, clinched the historic victory with a 123-109 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Celebrating the achievement on the court with his teammates, James expressed, "We made history. Anytime you’re on the right side of history, you take it. The first in-season tournament belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Davis, acknowledging the significance of the win, stated, “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 undefeated run through the tournament, which featured all 30 NBA teams initially divided into six groups for round-robin play.

The Lakers completed the tournament with an unblemished record of 7-0, while the Pacers finished with a 6-1 record. Both teams secured 4-0 records in group play and notched two victories each in the knockout rounds to earn their spots in the title game.

Reflecting on the journey to the championship game, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle commented, “I will remember the togetherness, the pride that they took in what they were accomplishing along the way, and the excitement.”

Each player on the Los Angeles Lakers will earn $500,000, while players on the Indiana Pacers will receive $200,000 each. All games, except the final, contributed to the regular-season standings. LeBron James emphasized that the Lakers' performance during the tournament would benefit them in the long NBA season, helping them during the playoff push.

“I think every moment we grew,” said James. “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 a standout performance from Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, who contributed 20 points and 11 assists, it wasn't enough against the determined Lakers. The Lakers, buoyed by a home crowd, led most of the game, and a late 13-0 scoring run in the fourth quarter sealed the victory.

Anthony Davis, who scored 41 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the final, acknowledged that despite the tournament's significance, they need to focus on the regular season ahead. “Even though it’s a big performance, it’s another game, and we’ve got to continue to get going starting back on Tuesday,” he said.