Mendoza.File photo

Mendoza: Lakers win could spur title dreams

The Los Angeles Lakers are champions again. This time, as winners of the inaugural In-Season Tournament of the NBA (National Basketball Association).

They achieved that by beating the Indiana Pacers, 123-109, on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 (PH time).

The jam-packed crowd of more than 22,000 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was dominated by Laker fans, mostly coming from Los Angeles that is barely two hours away by car from the desert destination called Sin City.

They were not disappointed as the Lakers, led, as expected, by the team’s 1-2 punch in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, virtually toyed with the upstart Pacers in almost the entirety of the 48-minute contest.

The Pacers led twice at 3-0 and 5-2 just seconds into the game.

After that, it was Laker show all the way, although Indiana had managed to tie the count twice at 11-all and 15-all.

After modest margins of five points each in the first quarter, 34-29, and at the half, 65-60, the Lakers went to work in the last two quarters, building double-digit leads consistently until they became unreachable with their 16-point, 115-99 bulge with under four minutes left in the game.

The win gave Los Angeles a 7-0 sweep of the Group Play in the NBA’s innovative edition to bolster support in a league that is known to have a lethargic fan acceptance in the early goings of practically every season.

So pumped up were the 30 teams that they gave it their all in every game, knowing that winning the NBA Cup would mean a whopping bonus of $500,000 for every player in the champion squad.

In the end, Los Angeles prevailed, thanks mainly to Davis and James.

Dishing off another monstrous performance on Sunday, Davis delivered a double-double of 41 points and 20 rebounds, four blocks and five steals that left everyone in awe.

Not to be outdone was James, who added 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists to cap his tournament-long savvy, earning him the coveted Most Valuable Player award.

The crown adds to LA’s 17 record NBA trophies in a tie with Boston but, more importantly, it could spur the Lakers to intensify their title dreams again in the regular league that runs up to June 2024.

For, at 38, James appears as perennial as grass?

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