Tuesday night was the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Phoenix Suns, which was a back-and-forth game in the second half. Ultimately, the Lakers would remain undefeated in the tournament, winning 106-103 and earning a trip to Las Vegas for the semifinals.
This was the third time these two teams squared off already, allowing NBA fans to see Kevin Durant and LeBron James face off after their last matchup on Christmas Day 2018. Tuesday was no different as both superstars made their fair share of highlight plays.
Durant and James scored 31 points each, trying to will their respective teams to Las Vegas to win the NBA Cup. While the Lakers have defensive wings in Jarred Vanderbilt and Cam Reddish, it was still hard to contain Durant’s incredible shot-making.
After this close loss, the Suns star was asked who he had winning the tournament now that they were eliminated, and he picked L.A.
“I’m going to go with the Lakers since they beat us,” Durant said. “They got the size to compete with anybody. They’ve got the quickest flight out of anybody. The most fans out of anybody. It’s set up for them to win and I can’t wait to watch. The intensity of these games have been incredible. I wasn’t a fan as they were forming this thing but I’m a huge fan of the In-Season Tournament and I’m looking forward to watching it.”
It is nice to see Durant pay some respect towards the Lakers, deservingly so as L.A. is trying to compete for a championship. One of the highlights of the roster was the Lakers’ length and size; now that the wings are available, it has made a difference in the team’s defense.
The In-Season Tournament has been deemed a success by providing highly competitive games in late November and early December. There was indeed some skepticism from fans and players, but both sides seemed to bought in on this new idea implemented by the NBA.
This is what Adam Silver envisioned with the In-Season Tournament, seeing superstars going toe to toe by giving them incentives to play for and creating playoff-like atmospheres, thus making for an entertaining viewing experience all around and re-injecting new life into the regular season.
D’Angelo Russell: Lakers’ playoff experience helping us during NBA In-Season Tournament
Coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance last season, L.A. is eager to get over that hump and win their 18th championship. D’Angelo Russell believes that the team’s playoff experience is helping them perform in this In-Season Tournament and while winning that wouldn’t be a championship, the players are clearly very invested.
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