Guard Lonnie Walker IV was a forgotten man in Los Angeles, then suddenly became the hoops hero who saved the day.
Thanks largely to Walker’s 15 fourth-quarter points, the Lakers lead their series vs. the defending champion Warriors, 3-1.
“The game ball definitely goes to him,” star forward LeBron James told reporters. “We don’t win without him.”
Walker’s shot in Warriors guard Stephen Curry put the Lakers in front 100-99, and it proved to be the basket of the night.
“It just comes with a lot of confidence,” Walker said of the shot. “I made a couple of other shots prior to that, and I think my confidence was for sure at an all-time high. … It’s probably a difficult shot for others, but it really isn’t a difficult shot for me.”
- Lakers coach Darvin Ham added that Walker has stayed ready despite uneven playing time. “When your mind and your heart is in a good place, the body follows,” Ham told reporters.
- We have more on the Lakers’ big win right here.
Coach Steve Kerr suggested the Warriors aren’t panicking despite the 3-1 deficit vs. the Lakers.
“It feels like what it is,” Kerr told reporters. “You go home and you take care of business. You get a win. And the momentum is right back in your favor. That’s all it is. Someone has to win four times. That’s why you play it out.”
The Warriors are the only team to surrender a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. That happened in 2016 against the James-led Cavaliers.
So perhaps they can view this as a chance at redemption, shooting guard Klay Thompson indicated.
“We made history before. The goal is to win one at home. We know we are capable of taking care of home court. It’s about staying present and not looking ahead,” Thompson said.
- Curry said the difference was the fourth quarter. “We had good looks that didn’t go in, but we fought all the way down to the last second to give ourselves a chance to steal a win,” Curry said. “Fourth quarter, we only scored 17 points. That’s a tough way to finish.”
“Yes, we can get some other guys involved and that’s going to help us a lot,” Jokic said. “If you remember the first game, (Bruce Brown) had 15 or 20 points, (Michael Porter Jr.) scored a lot of points, the whole bench, actually, played really well, right? That helps a lot. But it’s not all on them.”