NBA playoffs: Lonnie Walker, Lakers fend off Stephen Curry to take 3-1 series lead over Warriors
Stephen Curry's third playoff triple-double came up just short on Monday night
Stephen Curry did everything he could on Monday night in Los Angeles.
But in the end it was Lonnie Walker IV — yes, Lonnie Walker IV — who pushed the Lakers to one win 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 semifinal series 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.
"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 3-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, who finished with 31 points, and the Warriors who led at the end of the period. Curry even whipped out a wild assist to Donte DiVincenzo to stifle a Lakers run late in the quarter.
Behind-the-back dime to DiVincenzo 🤯
Steph creeping up on a triple-double ➡️ 21 PTS / 9 REB / 13 AST
— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) May 9, 2023
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 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. Curry had a pair of missed shots with fewer 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.
STEPH. SO CLOSE. 😱 pic.twitter.com/oL7U8zWEJF
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 9, 2023
"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 in there for 12 rounds, man. We pulled through."
James led the Lakers with 27 points and 9 rebounds in the win. Anthony Davis, who dropped 19 points in the first half, finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Austin Reeves finished with 21 points. The Lakers outscored the Warriors 27-17 in the final period.
Curry added 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 9 points on three 3-pointers. The Warriors shot just 12-of-41 from behind the arc; they 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 II 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.
Draymond with a HUGE assist to…the Lakers bench 😅 pic.twitter.com/Vngli2dyid
— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) May 9, 2023
There was speculation that Payton actually vomited, so watch this video at your own risk.
Payton made the start in place of JaMychal Green. He had averaged a little more than 11 minutes per game in this 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.
Draymond Green’s head slams on the court on a fast break play with LeBron James.
After review, it was deemed to be a common foul. pic.twitter.com/SLZA2XhVtl
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 9, 2023
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 appeared to be fine.
What a move from Draymond 😮💨🔥 pic.twitter.com/8qpDq0LiUo
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 9, 2023
Green finished with 8 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.