Lonnie Walker, Lakers fend off Stephen Curry to take 3-1 series lead over WarriorsMay 9th, 2023
Stephen Curry did everything he could on Monday night in Los Angeles.
But in the end it was Lonnie Walker — yes, Lonnie Walker — that pushed the Lakers to just a game away from reaching the Western Conference Finals.
The Lakers fended off Curry and the Golden State Warriors 104-101 in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Monday night. Walker, after sparking a huge run to bring the Lakers back into it in the fourth quarter, dropped all of his 15 points in the final period of the three-point win.
“For him to be as young as he is, for him to have that professionalism, to come out and stay ready when his number was called, we don’t win this game without Lonnie Walker tonight, that’s for sure,” LeBron James said on TNT after the win.
The Warriors held just a three point lead at halftime on Monday night, thanks to a big 14-6 burst to close the second quarter. Though both teams traded runs for a bit in the third, it was Curry and the Warriors that came out on top by the end of the period. Curry even whipped out a wild assist to Dante DiVincenzo to stifle a Lakers run late in the quarter.
But that lead evaporated almost instantly to start the fourth quarter. The Lakers opened the period on an 11-4 run that was powered largely by Walker that tied things up instantly. The Lakers then held on, and limited the Warriors to just a Curry layup in the final three minutes of the game, while Walker and James pushed them to the three-point win.
“This is something that I’ve been dreaming of my entire life and manifesting it,” Walker said on TNT. “With due diligence and mental fortitude, I got to be able to show what I was capable of doing.”
Curry and the Warriors got a couple of good looks at the end, too. He had a pair of missed shots with just less than 30 seconds left in the game that could have put them back up. But Walker hit a pair of free throws after those misses, and Draymond Green turned the ball over, to officially hand the Lakers the win.
“We just a resilient bunch,” James said on TNT. “They hit us with haymaker after haymaker after haymaker trying to get us to fall. We just stayed in the fight. It’s a 48 minute game, it’s a 12 round boxing match, and we stayed int here for 12 rounds man. We pulled through.”
James led the Lakers with 27 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Anthony Davis, who dropped 19 points in the first half, finished with just 23 points and 15 rebounds. Austin Reeves finished with 21 points. The Lakers outscored the Warriors 27-17 in the final period.
Curry finished with 31 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in what was an incredible performance and just the third playoff triple double of his career. Andrew Wiggins added 17 points, and Klay Thompson finished with nine points on three 3-pointers. The Warriors shot just 12-of-41 from behind the arc, and only went 6-of-17 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Warriors survive chaotic first half
Just minutes into the game at Crypto.com Arena, Warriors guard Gary Payton suddenly stood up straight on the defensive end and motioned toward the Warriors’ bench. Something was clearly wrong, but it was hard to tell what. After the Warriors got the stop and pushed the play to the other end, however, Payton just walked right off the court and went straight back to the locker room.
His other four teammates, however, had no idea that Payton left. That led to a very strange Green pass to a Lakers assistant coach.
There’s an unproven theory that Payton actually vomited, but watch that video at your own risk.
Payton made the start in place of JaMychal Green. He had averaged just more than 11 minutes per game so far in the series. To his credit, Payton returned to the game just a few minutes later as if nothing had happened. He finished with 15 points and shot 7-of-9 from the field.
That wasn’t the only thing Golden State had to battle in the first half. Midway through the second quarter, Green caught an outlet pass and was going up for a layup when James bumped him and sent him sprawling to the court. Green’s head whipped back as he fell, too, and hit the court hard.
That left Green down for quite some time in clear pain.
After a review, officials determined it was just a common foul on James and Green stayed in the game. He pulled out an incredible move just a few moments later, too, and was clearly fine.
He finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Game 5 of the series is set for Wednesday night at the Chase Center in San Francisco. A win for the Lakers will send them back to their first Western Conference Finals since they won the title at Walt Disney World in 2020.
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