The Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA’s first In-Season Tournament (IST) champions.
LeBron James and the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 123-109 Saturday night in Las Vegas to take home the championship trophy.
As winners of the inaugural IST, each Lakers’ player on standard contracts takes home $500,000 in winnings.
“We made history,” James said on the court after the win. “And anytime you’re on the right side of history, you’ll take it. First In-Season Tournament belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers. That will never, ever be topped. Ever.”
Led by eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis, the Lakers held the lead most of the way before pulling away in the fourth quarter.
Davis had 41 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks on the night.
“I think AD, he was at Level 1 and took it to Level 3,” Lakers backup center Christian Wood told ESPN. “He told me before the game, ‘This is Game 7 for me, I’m going to show you what a Game 7 is like.’ I’ve never been in one before. I said, ‘All right, show me.’ And he went out there and he got 40 and 20. That’s incredible.”
LeBron James had 24 points and 11 rebounds and took home the first MVP.
“They’re a hell of a one-two punch,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said about James and Davis. “That one or two could be either one of them on any given night. At the end of the day, they know how to take it to the next level when everything is on the line.”
The Pacers hung around until the Lakers went on a 13-0 run midway through the fourth quarter.
“We just got outplayed tonight from the start of the game to the end of the game,” Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton said. “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 everybody says this has 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.”
Each Indiana player on standard contracts took home $200,000.
“Our guys got a real taste of what the elevated stage is all about,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s so important to have this experience, to feel the intensity, to feel the glare and the glow and to find out what it means to be totally together in an effort to conquer it. We conquered a lot of challenges along the way. This one tonight was a little too steep.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report