Lakers punch ticket to in-season tournament final; LeBron scores 30 in win vs. Pels

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives in for a layup against the New Orleans Pelicans in the first half of the West semifinal game of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament at T-Mobile Arena on December 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Pho

LeBron James scored 30 points in less than three quarters and the Los Angeles Lakers steamrolled the New Orleans Pelicans 133-89 on Thursday night to reach the championship game in the NBA In-Season Tournament.

The Lakers will play the surprising Indiana Pacers on Saturday night for the inaugural NBA Cup. Indiana advanced with a 128-119 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the other semifinal. Unlike the other tournament games, that one will not count in the regular-season standings.

Austin Reaves scored 17 points for Los Angeles, Anthony Davis had 16 points and 15 rebounds and Taurean Prince finished with 15 points.

Trey Murphy III led the Pelicans with 14 points. Zion Williamson had 13 points and Herbert Jones 10.

New Orleans led 30-29 after the first quarter, but James opened the second scoring the Lakers’ first 11 points, making three 3-pointers in a row. The last two came from the league and tournament logo, firing up the pro-Lakers crowd. The nearly 39-year-old superstar even took a charge at one point.

By halftime, he had 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting. James went to the bench midway through the third quarter, which should give him plenty of energy for the championship.

Los Angeles has won three consecutive games and four of its past five. The Pelicans had won three of their previous four.


  • Pelicans: Host Minnesota on Monday night.
  • Lakers: Face Indiana on Saturday night in Las Vegas in the title game.