Without their two young stars, the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a Summer League Championship. Brandon Ingram has been out simce overtime of the first round robin game. Lonzo Ball missed his second game of the summer, this time with a strained calf. The squad clearly didn’t need their top two players on Sunday night, defeating the Portland Trailblazers by a score of 110-98.
The Trailblazers built an 8-point lead in the second quarter, but the Lakers trimmed their deficit to just a point before halftime. The second half was all Los Angeles, and included a nice stretch of defense that was missing in the first half. The Lakers allowed 20 points in the third quarter, and only 19 in the fourth.
Kyle Kuzma stole the show on a night where bis teammate, Lonzo, received Summer League MVP honors. “Kuz-Kuz” dropped 30 points effortlessly. He finished a very efficient night by making 11 of his 16 field goal attempts. He continued to nail the 3-point shot by converting 6/10 from deep. Kuzma tacked on 10 rebounds to complete a double double as the Lakers took over the second half.
Another player that had another outstanding night, which I believed has earned him a training camp invite, is Matt Thomas. Thomas made all five of his 3-point attempts, finishing 8/9 for 23 points. He’s been on an absolute tear lately, converting 13/15 3 pointers (86%) in his past three games. Without Thomas’s sharpshooting, the Lakers likely wouldn’t have won the championship.
Vander Blue chipped in 20 points for the world champions, adding 6 assists and 5 boards to his stat line. Ivica Zubac missed his first four shots of the game, but made the final six to end the game with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
Filling in for Lonzo, Alex Caruso showed why he was given the Lakers’ first ever two-way contract. Caruso posted 15 points while handing out 9 assists. He also grabbed 7 rebounds for the Lakers, as he pushed the pace of the game past what Portland could handle.
I’m a firm believer that in winning a Summer League championship, it brings a winning mentality to the team. It’s something the Lakers haven’t had in the past four seasons, but the times are changing. The Lakers arguably have the best young talent in the league, and should be able to compete with the top dogs in the future.