Every game, someone fresh comes into the familiar spotlight for the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that grows more confident with each game.
Every game, someone on the champion Golden State Warriors seemed to wilt under the pressure of defending a title, posing a new problem for Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry.
The Lakers are showing to be more than your usual seventh seed, no longer a content-to-be-here team, and took one step closer to removing the champions on Monday night with a nail-biting 104-101 triumph at Crypto.com Arena.
Lonnie Walker IV’s Fourth-Quarter Brilliance Steals the Show as Lakers Overwhelm Warriors
D’Angelo Russell took on an offensive posture and led the Lakers to a rout two nights ago. This time, the underutilized Lonnie Walker IV shone, nearly outscoring the Warriors with all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter.
He was lively and opportunistic, as seen by his introduction in the fourth quarter when the Lakers needed a push. You were waiting for Darvin Ham to take him out and return the spotlight to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Defensive Dominance and Walker IV’s Resurgence Propel Lakers Past Threatening Warriors
James and Davis remained focused on the defensive end when the Warriors threatened, each making important stops. The previous time the tandem messed up a hallmark Warriors play was when Draymond Green drove seeking for Klay Thompson but Davis, and James swapped on the screen, resulting in a James steal.
They both eventually stated that they were glad to be engaged in the action because corporate knowledge of what the Warriors do may sometimes work in their advantage.
They left the offensive to guys more suited to it, namely Lonnie Walker IV.
With each passing minute, he reminded himself and others why he was in the steady rotation to begin the season. He had huge nights until things changed with all of the February personnel movements that forced him out of the rotation.
“You know, weathered the storm, learn how to dance in the storm,” Lonnie Walker IV remarked. “There are uncontrollables, you know, I got injured… but I stuck with it.” I stayed in the gym, continuing being a wonderful teammate and being professional.”
Walker IV Sparks Lakers’ Resilience as James and Davis Anchor Defensively Against the Threatening Warriors
He brought the storm to the Warriors, looking confident and surprising them. Again, it allowed James and Davis to concentrate on defense outside of periods where both put in extra effort to keep the Lakers in the game. They teetered frequently but did not fall.
“When your mind and heart are in the right place, your body will follow,” Ham said of Lonnie Walker IV. “He deserves it. We continued with a possession by possession, next play approach. Lonnie Walker is in the thick of it.”
Davis finished his up-and-down season with a 23-point, 15-rebound effort, but his defense was again outstanding. James helped the Lakers come back from minute deficits, and while he didn’t shoot especially well, at times appearing downright sloppy, he did just enough to produce a stat line of 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists in 42 minutes. Ham hauled him out during the fourth quarter but returned 10 seconds later without even taking a seat on the bench.
LeBron James Ignites A Comeback, Warriors Struggle to Capitalize in Crucial Game
James staged a surge to tie the game when the Warriors threatened to run away and tie the series after opening the fourth quarter down 7.
“We spent a significant amount of halftime watching clips.” “You have to listen to your players sometimes,” Ham remarked. “You have to listen to your players; it has to be collaborative.” People are looking at the game objectively and honestly. That’s what LeBron did. He’s just doing what he normally does.”
The Warriors, on the other hand, looked set on making things as difficult for themselves as possible, and now they’ve dug themselves a hole that four championship rings won’t be able to pull them out of. They had several chances to put the Lakers away in the second half.
It wouldn’t have been easy, and the Lakers were surely as desperate as they needed to be, but the Warriors had the upper hand. On the other hand, Curry had a great night everywhere but from behind the 3-point line, similar to Game 2 when he controlled the tempo and set up teammates for a barrage of open shots.
With a triple-double of 31 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds, he managed the game like Magic Johnson or even LeBron James in his heyday.
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