The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament ended the way the Los Angeles Lakers faithful were hoping for as they beat the Indiana Pacers to take home the first-ever NBA Cup.
LeBron James was named In-season Tournament MVP after dominating each of the Lakers’ games, though Anthony Davis was the star of the night in the Championship game.
Los Angeles didn’t drop a single game the entirety of the tournament, and were the ones to hand Indiana their first loss. Tyrese Haliburton had been on a tear, but was kept in check by the Laker defense for most of the night.
Haliburton admitted that he and his teammates were upset after losing in the Championship game. “Yeah, we’re sick, frustrated,” Haliburton said. “We just got outplayed tonight from the start of the game to the end of the game. Just didn’t do the job on loose balls, didn’t rebound, didn’t get enough stops when needed. They just outplayed us, and it’s frustrating.
“It’s funny because it’s like everybody says this has like the NCAA Tournament feel, but after a game like that you’re sitting in the locker room going, most of us ain’t graduating, we play on Monday. It’s definitely frustrating. We’ve got to take that one on the chin, and we’ve got a flight tomorrow and we play Detroit on Monday. I know it has that NCAA Tournament feel, championship feel, but we play in a couple days, so it’s all part of the season.
“I just think if you let that — we’ve done some great things to get here, competed against some really good teams and battled, and you can’t let that happen for no reason. If you allow this loss to roll over and we’ve got a four-game road trip coming up here, you’ve got to take care of business and handle it the right way and celebrate the successes of it. But at the end of the day, it’s just like the regular season. It’s Game 22, 23. Got to move on.”
The Pacers star walked by the Lakers on the floor when the game was over to congratulate LeBron James and later said he believes Los Angeles took that win from him and Indiana. “Yeah, I think just congratulating the team. They did a great job. Everybody competed. I think at the end of the day it was just one great — I’m just talking to a great and congratulating him on the win and moving on.
“I think that he’s shown me love constantly since I’ve came in the NBA, and obviously I have for him for the majority of my life. It was great to compete against him and that team, and they’re a good team and earned that win.”
It’s a classy comment from Haliburton who competed well, but the purple and gold can now say they’re the first-ever In-Season Tournament champions.
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