Alex Caruso reacts to a play against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Las Vegas Summer League finals on July 17, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)

Lakers Sputter in Summer League Championship

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

LAS VEGAS — Twenty-four hours after going six rounds with Cleveland in a double-overtime battle, the Lakers simply didn’t have much left for another heavyweight fight.

The Lakers entered Tuesday’s Las Vegas Summer League championship game as the tournament’s No. 1 seed with a perfect 6-0 record. In the other corner was a second-seeded Portland squad that had also won all six of its games.

What promised to be a slugfest rematch of last summer’s title game instead turned into sparring. The Lakers could never get going on either side of the floor in a 91-73 loss that served as an unfitting ending to a dominant summer run.

The Trail Blazers controlled the match from the very start. Armed with nine players with NBA experience (to the Lakers’ four) and an offense as polished as any summer league team, Portland shot a fiery 13-of-17 from the field in the first quarter to seize a 12-point lead.

“We’ve usually been the team in Vegas that had the hit-first mentality, jumped on teams early,” summer league coach Miles Simon said. “They really got into a rhythm in that first quarter and then we couldn’t overcome it. It was too much of an uphill climb the rest of the night.”

The rebuttal never truly came for the Lakers, who failed to hit a 3-pointer in the first half and later trailed by 20 at the end of three quarters.

Even Josh Hart — who accepted the Summer League MVP trophy at halfcourt before tip-off — wasn’t able to spark the Lakers’ offense, scoring just 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting.

“After this horrible game today, yeah I can’t wait to get back to training camp, preseason and regular season,” Hart said. “Wash this taste out of our mouths. That time can’t come soon enough.”

Hart entered the game leading all players in scoring (24.2), but his night ended early as he was ejected for arguing a call with 4:45 remaining.

Likewise, Second Team All-Summer League selection Svi Mykhailiuk also found little success, adding only 10 points on a 3-of-10 clip.

Neither player wanted to blame sore legs from playing three games in three nights (including double-OT the day before), but it was obvious that the Lakers didn’t have the necessary energy, as the stellar wing duo hit just 3-of-13 from 3-point range, while L.A. shot 3-of-21 as a team (14.3 percent).

Notes
Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, Luke Walton, Brandon Ingram and Lance Stephenson all sat courtside. … K.J. McDaniels (17 points), Wade Baldwin IV (14 points, six assists) and Caleb Swanigan (seven points, nine rebounds, five assists) led a balanced Blazers attack. … Alex Caruso returned after missing the previous game due to illness, pitching in nine points and four assists.

Proud of our guy, @jhart! #LakersSummer

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