Lonnie Walker, unsuspected hero

At the start of the last quarter of the game 4 of the Western Conference semifinalsthe tension in the Crypto Arena was at an all time high. The Warriors had closed the third quarter with a seven-point lead that, taking into account the immense game that Steph Curry was registering, they seemed enough to put ground between Golden State and the Lakers, and thus leave the series 2-2 before taking the plane back to San Francisco.

A few seconds later, however, an unsuspected hero He returned the illusion to the Los Angeles public. A Lonnie Walker IVfrom the depths of the bench, he hit his first shot: Pressured by Wiggins, the guard shot from outside the perimeter to bring the Lakers within four points. 15 seconds had passed since the start of the fourth quarter.

Was the first of nine field goals, of which he made six. 15 points in total. All in the last part. Lonnie took advantage of the attention LeBron James and Anthony Davis generate in the paint to find space in the middle distance. James, a wise man in these circumstances, he understood that Walker had a hot hand: he searched for it over and over again after plays of pick and roll in which he mercilessly attacked Steph Curry.

A historical record for a forgotten player

The brilliant performance of Lonnie Walker IV, who ended up giving Los Angeles the momentous victory in game 4, is much more than that. In fact, the escort became the first Laker to score 15 points or more from the bench in a fourth quarter of the Playoffs since, on May 8, 1997, a certain Kobe Bryant did it against the Utah Jazz. It took exactly 26 years.

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The most striking thing about Walker’s prominence is that, since Pelinka decided to rearm the team before the market closed, in February, the shooting guard had lost his spot in Ham’s rotation. The arrival of Beasley, a player with similar characteristics, although more inclined to triple, ended up leaving him deep on the bench, despite the fact that he had started the season quite well.

Lonnie didn’t play a relevant minute in the series against the Grizzlies -beyond some possessions in the junk minutesnor in the last games of the regular season. He just did it in Game 2 of the conference semifinals, in which he showed that, in addition to scoring, his athleticism would allow him to keep up with the Warriors’ always-dynamic point guards on defense.

Last night was without a doubt the biggest game of Lonnie Walker’s career. LeBron acknowledged, at the end of the game, that the Lakers would not have won without him, and publicly congratulated him for having patiently waited for his opportunity, working in the gym and knowing that they could need him at any moment. That moment is already here. Lonnie Walker IV is here to stay.

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