LAS VEGAS - Due to a strained calf, Lonzo Ball sat out of Monday's NBA Summer League final in Las Vegas, where the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Portland Trail Blazers at the Thomas & Mack Center, but the 19-year-old rookie sensation was named NBA Summer League Most Valuable Player and handed a trophy prior to the game.
Ball became the first Laker to be named Summer League MVP after averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals, along with recording two triple-doubles.
After Ball was presented with the MVP trophy, which he accepted wearing what could best be described as spa slippers, the Lakers and Blazer played out a closely contested Las Vegas Summer League finals.
From the onset, rookie Kyle Kuzma out of the University of Utah stepped up and filled the scoring void. Kuzma, who was named to the All Summer League 2nd Team, scored 19 points in the first half on 7-10 shooting, including 4-6 from beyond the three-point line.
Kuzma has been a standout player for the Lakers, who drafted the Flint, Michigan native with the no. 27 over all pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Kuzma's scoring helped the Lakers keep pace with Portland, as the two teams went into the halftime intermission down 59-58.
In addition to Kuzma, the Lakers also earned solid contirbutions from Vander Blue and Matt Thomas, both of whom started and scored in double figures in the first half.
As the score suggested, the Lakers and Blazers were in for a high-scoring shootout, as both teams put up high scores for NBA games, while Summer League games only feature 10-minute quarters.
Kuzma continued his strong performance by scoring 11 points in the third quarter and giving the Lakers an 84-79 lead with 10 minutes to play. Kuzma had improved to 6-8 from three-point land after hitting a buzzer beating three-pointer to put the Lakers up 84-79 with 10 minutes remaining.
In the fourth quarter, the crowd got involved and turned up the intensity, which only helped the Lakers, who were the clear crowd favorites. When Ivica Zubac hit a mid-range jump shot with 7:42 remaining in the ball game, the Blazers called time out and the biased Lakers' fans erupted into a frenzy at the Lakers leading by 13 points.
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The lead would obviously narrow, as Portland made a push to comeback, but the Lakers' continued to hit shots when they needed them most. Portland would cut the difference down to single digits multiple times, but the Lakers never let Portland truly threaten.
OFFICIAL: Kyle Kuzma named MVP of the 2017 Summer League final.— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) July 18, 2017
When the final buzzer finally sounded, the Lakers won by a final count of 110-98.
Incredibly, LA won six straight games, including five playoff games in six nights, to win the Las Vegas Summer League tournament. Kuzma finished the night with 30 points and 10 rebounds.