Lonzo Ball sits, but Lakers win summer league title anyway – Orange County Register

Throughout the tournament portion of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, most of the Lakers success could be traced back to Lonzo Ball.

Ball was named summer league Most Valuable Player. After he experienced tightness in his right calf in the Lakers semifinal victory a day earlier, Ball was held out of Monday’s title game against Portland.

Where did that leave the Lakers, forced to play without Ball?

Champions anyway.

Kyle Kuzma scored a game-high 30 points and was named MVP of the championship game as the Lakers defeated the Trail Blazers 110-98 and earned a different kind of trophy for a franchise that has won the league’s real championship 16 times in its history.

Ball was named the league’s MVP after averaging  16.3 points, 9.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds in six games. Lakers President Magic Johnson said on ESPN’s broadcast of Monday’s game that Ball would undergo an MRI on Tuesday back in Los Angeles.

The Lakers won their last six games in Vegas to secure the title, a run that started after they dropped their first two games.

“We kind of got some momentum and that’s what this is all about,” said Lakers assistant Jud Buechler, who coached the summer league squad. “They shared the basketball they played the right way and if you do that, great things are going to happen.”

Kuzma was drafted 27th overall in June’s draft – 25 picks after Ball – and averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds 3 assists and more than a block and steal per game, while also displaying a surprising touch from 3.

On Monday, the Lakers trailed 59-58 at halftime but stormed back to take an 84-79 lead when Kuzma nailed a deep 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer.

While a summer league championship will and should be taken with a grain of salt, it at least gives a franchise that has not won more than 27 games in the last four seasons  — and has cycled through three coaches since its last playoff appearance –a bit of momentum going into next season.

“The Lakers are…

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