Blazers Down Lakers To Win 2018 Las Vegas Summer League Tournament Championship

by Casey Holdahl
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The two-seed Portland Trail Blazers put a cap on their perfect 2018 Las Vegas Summer League by defeating the one-seed Los Angeles Lakers 91-73 in the Tournament Championship Tuesday night at Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

“We have a lot of first-rounders, a lot of guys with experience,” said Trail Blazers point guard Wade Baldwin IV. “Coming in the goal was to win a championship and we went undefeated and we did that as a team.”

With the win, the Trail Blazers finish their run in Las Vegas with a 7-0 record.

Tuesday night’s game was a rematch of the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League Tournament Finals, which the Lakers won handily, and the Trail Blazers wasted no time exacting their revenge by jumping out to an early double-digit lead.

After struggling on the offensive end for most of the night in their semifinal victory versus the Grizzlies Monday night, Portland made nine of their first 10 shots and their first three three-pointers and never looked back. A 10-0 run late in the first quarter gave the Trail Blazers a 27-10 lead, an advantage that the Lakers would get down to 31-19 before the start of the second quarter.

The Trail Blazers extended their lead in the second quarter, taking a 50-33 lead into the intermission thank to balanced scoring from KJ McDaniels (nine points), Jake Layman (eight points) and John Jenkins (eight points).

The Lakers managed to cut Portland’s lead to 12 on multiple occasions in the third quarter, but Portland finished the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 71-51 lead into the fourth. The Lakers were never able to sustain a run to overcome the 20-point deficit, allowing the Trail Blazers to coast to yet another double-digit victory, their sixth, in summer league play.

“Last year it was Portland and the Lakers, Lakers got the job done last year,” said Baldwin IV, who was name Second Team All-Summer League prior to Tuesday’s game. “It’s redemption for this team. We played together this entire tournament and we put it all together in this game and came out with a win.”

Six Trail Blazers finished the game in double figures led by McDaniels, who took the Tournament Championship MVP with a 17-point, seven-rebound performance. Baldwin IV had a bounce-back game Tuesday night after turning in his worst effort Monday night versus the Grizzlies, finishing with 14 points, six assists and four rebounds in 20 minutes.

Rookie Gary Trent Jr. finished his first foray into professional basketball by going 6-of-15 from the field for 12 points to go with two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 23 minutes. Anfernee Simons, who sat out Monday’s game with a hip contusion, returned to the lineup for the final and finished with seven points, three rebounds and two steals.

Layman added 10 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes, Jenkins capped off a strong summer league with 11 points and three rebounds and Archie Goodwin, the leading scorer in summer league history, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.