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Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers: Championship - 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty

(Las Vegas, NV)Anthony Davis and LeBron James combine for 65 points as the Los Angeles Lakers win the first ever In-Season Tournament 123-109 over the Indiana Pacers.


There have been moments this season where the Pacers would struggle to start games, but it didn’t feel like they would after Buddy Hield knocked down a three on the first Pacers possession. Indiana was quickly ahead 5-2 over the Lakers, but two possessions later it was tied. Anthony Davis would give the Lakers the lead at 7-5 and they would for the next forty-five minutes and fifty-nine seconds. The first quarter really would summarize the game because the Pacers defense had no answers for Davis and couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. Bruce Brown picked up two fouls before three minutes came off the clock. Davis would dominate all twelve minutes by scoring 13 points while grabbing eight rebounds (two offensive). Austin Reaves was big in the first quarter with seven points off the bench. On the Indiana side of things, they went 3/10 from deep with Obi Toppin leading them in scoring with seven points. Somehow, the Pacers trailed 34-29 after the first quarter.


Reaves would pick up right where he ended the first quarter by going nuclear in the second quarter. He went 5/6 from the field and 5/5 at the free throw line, scoring 15 of the Lakers 31 points. There were a couple instances where Indiana cut the deficit to one possession, but they simply couldn’t get over the hump. It felt like it was two-steps forward and three-steps back the entirety of the game. In the second quarter, the Pacers cut it to a one possession game seven times. Los Angeles would make a shot five times. The two times they didn’t Indiana missed a three early into the shot clock and turned the ball over. What kept them in the game through twenty-four minutes was the fact the Lakers failed to make a three in their six attempts. On the other hand, Indiana made five while making twenty-one of their twenty-two free throw attempts. At halftime it was Los Angeles 65, Indiana 60. Reaves led all scorers with 22 points, Davis had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and LeBron had 12 points. Indiana was led in scoring by Aaron Nesmith with 11 points and Toppin with 7 points.


Coming into the championship game, the Lakers possessed the seventh best defensive rating in the association. They would impose their will coming out of the locker room and it would be crucial. Indiana’s defense held the Lakers to 25 points in the third, but the Pacers couldn’t shoot the ball into the ocean. The Lakers opened the quarter on a quick 7-1 run to take their first double-digit lead. It took nearly the entire period for the Pacers to get it back to a reasonable margin. With 2:02 left in the third, Tyrese Haliburton converted a layup to make it 84-79. Los Angeles quickly countered with a six-point run to go back up eleven. After three quarters, Indiana would trail 90-82.  Indiana went 1/9 from distance and shot 39% from the field. Haliburton led the Pacers in scoring with eight points. Davis had another double-digit quarter by scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds (two offensive). Through three quarters, the Pacers were -18 in rebounding margin.


Bennedict Mathurin would drill a three as time expired in the third quarter to provide a little bit of much needed energy. That would carry over to the start of the fourth quarter to chop their double-digit deficit to three-points at 92-89. However, the Lakers would answer every punch the Pacers delivered. Both times the Pacers cut it to three-points, the Lakers would make a shot to make it a two-possession game. The last time the Pacers were within one possession was 102-99 with 6:11 left. Los Angeles went on a 13-0 run to go ahead by a game high sixteen points and really put the game away with 3:25 to go. Everything from there on out was academic as the Lakers defeated the Pacers 123-109 for the NBA Cup. LeBron James would be named MVP for the IST.

TOP PERFORMERS: Antony Davis (41p, 20r, 4b), Austin Reaves (28p), and LeBron James (24p, 11r, 4a, 2s). Tyrese Haliburton (20p, 11a), Bennedict Mathurin (20p), and Aaron Nesmith (15p). For tonight’s full box score, click here.

NEXT UP: The entire association will enjoy off tomorrow and resume action on Monday. Indiana will take on the struggling Detroit Pistons in Detroit at 7pm eastern. The Kroger Pregame Show with Pat Boylan starting at 6:30pm eastern on 93.5/107.5 The Fan.

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