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Portland’s K.J. McDaniels was named MVP as the Trail Blazers defeated the Lakers Tuesday for the Las Vegas Summer League 2018 championship. 

By Ben Golliver
July 18, 2018

LAS VEGAS — The Blazers got their Summer League revenge against the Lakers, and they did so in record-setting fashion.

Portland defeated LA 91-73 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Tuesday to complete an undefeated 7-0 run through the Las Vegas Summer League and claim the franchise’s first Summer League title. The 18-point margin of victory marked the biggest blowout in the six-year history of the event’s championship game, eclipsing the Warriors’ 14-point win over the Suns in the inaugural title game in 2013. One year ago, the Lakers defeated the Blazers in the 2017 title game.

Throughout its tournament run, Portland thrived on a balanced attack and a deep roster stacked with current and former NBA-roster players, including rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. and veterans Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan, Wade Baldwin IV, Archie Goodwin, K.J. McDaniels and John Jenkins.

“Every one of the guys on our team and something to prove,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts told The Crossover. “We had two rookies, we had Zach and Caleb who were rookies last year and needed to be in Summer League. Wade Baldwin and Jake Layman really hadn’t done much on the NBA stage. K.J. McDaniels and Archie Goodwin have bounced around. We had some experienced players but there wasn’t one guy who didn’t need to be in Summer League and show what they could do.”

Six players finished in double figures for the Blazers, who regularly got out in transition and shot 49.4 percent from the field. McDaniels, a 2014 second-round pick, was named MVP of the championship game, after posting 17 points (on 8-14 shooting), seven rebounds and one assist in 20 minutes off the bench. Baldwin added 14 points, four rebounds and six assists.

“It was a good week,” Stotts said. “We’re going to have six guys from this team on our [real] team. How they came together, how they played, they shared the ball, different guys scored on different nights, it was very encouraging.”

The Lakers looked out of gas following a dramatic double-overtime win over the Cavaliers on Monday night, falling behind 31-19 in the first period and missing their first 11 three-point attempts. The pro-Lakers crowd never got the chance to cheer a serious comeback attempt, as the Blazers cruised from wire to wire.

“There’s a big Lakers fan base that comes to Summer League every year,” said Blazers Summer League coach Jim Moran. “We knew it was going to be a home game for them and an away game for us. We talked about getting on them early and taking the crowd out, staying composed and not letting the fans get into it and get us rattled.”

Lakers guard Josh Hart, who was named Summer League MVP earlier Tuesday, was held to 12 points on 3-12 shooting. The 2017 first-round pick was ejected with 4:45 remaining in the game after receiving two technical fouls for arguing calls.

“That same foul was called three times on [Lakers center] Jeff Ayres,” Hart said of his ejection. “It’s just consistency. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Hart, who exploded for 37 points against Cleveland and averaged 22.4 PPG while leading LA to a 6-1 Summer League record, wasn’t in the mood to discuss his MVP after the blowout loss, even though Lakers president Magic Johnson suggested the second-year guard could compete for a starting spot in the fall.

“It was cool,” Hart said of winning tournament MVP. “I’ll talk more about that later down the line. We came in and missed shots and we fell in the hole and we couldn’t find a rhythm. After this horrible game today, I can’t wait to get back to training camp and wash this taste out of my mouth. That time can’t come soon enough.”

Despite the one-sided contest, Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka, coach Luke Walton and players Lance Stephenson and Brandon Ingram stuck around to the final buzzer.

Portland became the sixth team—all from the Western Conference—to win the Las Vegas Summer League, joining Golden State (2013), Sacramento (2014), San Antonio (2015), Minnesota (2016) and LA (2017). The Blazers’ early plan is to display their Summer League championship trophy at their practice facility in Tualatin.

“I can’t really speak for [what the title means to] the organization, but as competitors it’s important,” Stotts told The Crossover. “You want to put your best foot forward and play well. All these guys are fighting for jobs or minutes. It’s a big deal, probably more for the players and the young coaches because it’s a championship. You’re in this to win.”

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