May 23, 2024

The banner from the NBA’s in-season tournament the Lakers won in Las Vegas was lowered to some applause from the fans inside Crypto.com Arena and mostly indifference from the players who won it.

They stood and looked at the NBA Cup that was placed at center court during a pregame ceremony Monday night, their eyes moving in every direction, their minds focused on facing the New York Knicks in a regular-season matchup.

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is fouled by Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt during the first half.

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is fouled by Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt during the first half.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

It’s obvious that the Lakers are about winning NBA championships, about adding to the 17 they already have, about that being their primary motivation.

But the Lakers did defeat the Indiana Pacers to win the inaugural NBA in-season tournament.

“I think it’s great for the organization,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Obviously, it’s something that’s going to be around. It’s only going to get bigger and better. I think it’s really, really cool that we’re doing that.”

But it’s also a hard truth that the Lakers haven’t been able to replicate the passion, energy and intensity they had during the tournament.

They were stymied by the Knicks, dropping a 114-109 game that left the Lakers 1-3 since winning in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

LeBron James registered a triple-double with 25 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but he was just 10 for 23 from the field, two-for-eight from three-point range.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 32 points and 14 rebounds.

But with Jalen Brunson dropping 29 points and Julius Randle 27, the Lakers couldn’t rally after being out-rebounded 52-40.

The Lakers' NBA Cup championship banner was revealed in a pregame ceremony Monday night at Crypto.com Arena.

The Lakers’ NBA Cup championship banner was revealed in a pregame ceremony Monday night at Crypto.com Arena.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Like they have often after winning in Las Vegas, the Lakers started slow against the Knicks, going down 12 points in the second quarter.

But then Davis took over, attacking the Knicks to score nine of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter, his last two coming with 0.1 seconds left to give the Lakers a 58-57 lead at halftime. He also had 10 first-half rebounds.

When the third quarter started, the Lakers went back to playing sluggishly.

They went down 90-80 to end the third.

Lakers star LeBron James scores during the first quarter against the Knicks.

Lakers star LeBron James scores during the first quarter against the Knicks. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Lakers forward Jaxson Hayes dunks during the first half.

Lakers forward Jaxson Hayes dunks during the first half. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers are heading back on the road again, playing Chicago on Wednesday night, with games against Minnesota on Thursday and Oklahoma City on Saturday. It is their job, Ham said, to stay locked in on what’s head of them.

“Just focus on what’s in the immediate future,” Ham said. “What’s exactly in front of you. That’s the only way you can get through this season. … But as far as our team, we just focus on what we need to get done that day and try to pour everything we have into getting something out of the day and extracting something good from the day and continuing to have that process as we go day to day, week to week, month to month.”

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