The Los Angeles Lakers are heading back to San Francisco with a chance to wrap up the series in five games after a 12-point second half comeback on Monday night in Game 4 against the Warriors.
It was a tense, sometimes sloppy game that had a wild finish in which the defending champs were the ones that looked a bit flustered and struggled to execute in the closing minutes. While Anthony Davis had 23 points and 15 rebounds on the night, he was quiet offensively in the fourth quarter and LeBron James was not his normal, efficient self, scoring 27 points but shooting just 10-of-25 from the field. With the stars not lighting it up, L.A. needed someone to step up and had an unlikely source spark their fourth quarter offense, with Lonnie Walker IV scoring 15 in the final quarter to lead the Lakers (after not attempting a single shot in the first three), knocking down the biggest shots of the game when called upon.
On the other side, Stephen Curry likewise had a tough shooting night (12-of-30) but was brilliant in every other area, posting a 31-point, 14-assist, 10-rebound triple-double. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the same kind of help down the stretch as the Lakers stars, and was part of the final minute meltdown that saw the Warriors unable to hit a go-ahead or game-tying bucket with a number of opportunities. The first chance came with just under a minute to play, when Davis made up for a quiet offensive quarter by putting the clamps on Curry twice, forcing him into a pair of tough stepbacks that went begging.
From there, Walker would fittingly be the one to knock down two clutch free throws, giving L.A. a three-point lead with 15 seconds to play. On the Warriors final possession, Draymond Green got caught in the air on the baseline and threw a pass that skipped by Andrew Wiggins and eventually into Anthony Davis’ hands.
Wiggins was able to force a jump ball to give Golden State one final chance at overtime, winning the tip with Curry grabbing the ball and falling to the floor. For some reason, rather than calling the Warriors’ final timeout, Curry just…threw the ball out of bounds, effectively ending the game.
Golden State threw up a hail mary challenge to no avail, and the Lakers were able to get the ball in and run out the clock on a Game 4 win that moves them into a 3-1 series lead. Walker was the hero for L.A., getting deserved props from LeBron in the postgame interview, praising the young wing for staying ready and rising to the occasion when called upon to give the Lakers some juice and young legs. It’s been fairly clear all postseason that James isn’t capable right now of just throwing the Lakers on his back and dragging them to wins, but the L.A. supporting cast has stepped up in some key spots to give him the help he needs on nights where AD fades into the periphery. On Monday, it was Walker and Austin Reaves (21 points) who stepped up and played huge roles in a big win for the Lakers.
For Golden State, it was a tough shooting night overall (12-of-41 from three), with Curry and Klay Thompson combining to go 6-of-23, with both missing some, we’ll call them bold, shots down the stretch. Klay had a pair of wild threes down the stretch of the fourth quarter that weren’t particularly close, and while Steph got a big four-point play to fall, he was unable to come up with either of his stepback attempts on Davis in the final minute. Given his success going to the rim all night, it was fair to wonder if Curry, even for all his shooting magic over the years, should’ve attacked the big man and forced the Lakers to collapse. Golden State had their chances and will be kicking themselves for the sloppiness down the stretch, as they let a golden opportunity slip away to tie things up and regain home court going back to the Chase Center.