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Sports >  NBA

Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers rout Los Angeles Lakers to claim NBA Summer League title

UPDATED: Tue., July 17, 2018, 10:54 p.m.

LAS VEGAS – It’s always touching when old college buddies get together.

Tuesday night it was a pair of key components to Gonzaga’s 2017 run to the NCAA championship vying for the 2018 NBA Summer League championship.

Zach Collins only scored three points, but his Portland Trail Blazers defeated Johnathan Williams and the Los Angeles Lakers 91-73.

Williams, who wasn’t available for comment after the game, also had a quiet night, scoring four points. He finished with 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

He did, however, bring a quiet Lakers-friendly crowd to life for a moment with a powerful flush over Collins late in the first half.

“I tried to get out the way, he got up a little quicker than I did. I’m probably still gonna be on the poster,” Collins said. “He’s got that on me for a while. He was a great teammate at Gonzaga and someone I loved playing with. He’s gonna have a bright future.”

For Collins, winning the title in his hometown provided a bit of satisfaction after getting and injured missing the end of the 2017 summer league run to the title game, which the Trail Blazers lost to the Lakers.

“Anytime you can play at home, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Collins said. “Now I get to go home and hang out with my family and friends, and that’s the best feeling in the world. We had a goal this year and that was to come and win this whole thing and we got it done.”

He’s not only taking home a summer league title, but a vote of confidence from Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who was in attendance for Tuesday’s game.

“Zach is building right now on what he did in the regular season,” Stotts said. “Last year we didn’t anticipate him playing much. He ended up getting an opportunity, took advantage of it and got better as the season went along.”

Part of that improvement was evolving more into the physical type of player who butted heads with Los Angeles center Jeff Ayres during the championship. Both got chippy and were assessed technical fouls, but it’s a feistiness that Stotts doesn’t mind.

“I think you gotta play with an edge. You have to have that edge during the NBA regular season and I think that part of it comes naturally for Zach,” Stotts said. “He’s still a young player. He’s got a lot of room to grow. I think you’ll see him make strides.”

W.G. Ramirez is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @WillieGRamirez

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