Lonnie Walker IV shoots the ball
Lonnie Walker IV shoots the ball

4th Quarter Comeback Carries Lakers to Huge Win Over Warriors

Two teams gave it everything they had and traded haymakers in the 4th quarter, but it was the Lakers who were the last team standing with a 104-101 victory over the Warriors in Game 4 Monday night. The win gives the Lakers a 3-1 lead and control in their series.

The Lakers do not win this game without countless contributions from so many different players, but it was Lonnie Walker IV whose game carried the Lakers home in this one. Going from not playing at all for most of the playoffs to a key rotation player in Game 3, Coach Ham again went to Walker on Monday night and was rewarded with a massive 4th quarter performance.

Down seven points to begin the final frame and desperate for shot making and some offensive juice, Walker IV delivered over and over again for the Lakers, scoring all 15 of his points in the final 12 minutes -- the first Laker to score 15 or more points off the bench in the 4th quarter of playoff game since Kobe Bryant did it against the Jazz exactly 26 years ago (May 8, 1997).

Darting around the court with fresh legs and intense focus, Lonnie took advantage of every inch of space afforded to him and attacked with force and precision to get into great positions to score. Whether working in screen actions as the ball handler or the screen setter, Lonnie repeatedly found himself getting free where he could elevate into his jump shot. With each successive make and the game very much in the balance, it felt as though the pressure on each shot rose further, only for him to continue to bury shots.

Walker IV would hit six of his nine attempts from the field, including five of his six attempts from inside the arc to carry the Lakers offense late as the type of wildcard scoring option the Warriors simply couldn't game plan for.

Every play made by Walker IV, however, seemed to be countered by Steph Curry and a Warriors team intent on tying up the series before heading back to San Francisco. Of his game-high 31 points, 10 came in the 4th quarter as Curry dashed around screens for jumpers and into the lane for runners in what truly was a game where both sides were giving it their all to seize even an ounce of control down the stretch. Curry would add 14 assists and 10 rebounds for a triple-double, truly leaving everything he had on the floor.

In the middle of the Walker IV/Curry duel, however, was LeBron James who also knows a thing or two about winning close playoff games and how to exert control.

For the first time all series, James accessed the primary ball-handler version of his game to take the game by the reins and shepherd it to its final conclusion. Seeking out defenders he could attack off the dribble and in the post, LeBron continuously called for on-ball screens where he could look to create an advantage to either score himself or get a teammate a good shot.

It was on these actions that the Lakers began the 4th quarter, leading to Walker IV's first bucket of the quarter, and then to a short jumper for James himself and a dump off pass for Anthony Davis for another quick bucket inside. These baskets erased the Warriors' lead and put the Lakers on the path to win the game.

To even get to this point, though, took so many other strong performances and key plays made by players on both sides. For the Lakers, beyond Lonnie and LeBron, Anthony Davis was again huge.

Early on, it was Davis offense that took center stage. AD scored 19 of his 23 points in the 1st half, carrying the Lakers on that side of the ball as one of the few players who could consistently hit shots. Whether he was working the interior for finishes at the rim or sinking his mid-range jumper, AD kept the Lakers in the game against a loaded-up Warriors defense.

In the 2nd half the Lakers went away from Davis offensively, but that's when he began to really impact the game defensively. After a 1st half that saw the Warriors attack AD in the pick-and-roll by constantly bringing his primary assignment up to the ball to set screens for Curry, the Lakers adjusted both by changing AD's initial defensive assignment to Andrew Wiggins and then by using a more switching scheme defensively to try to limit Curry's passing.

That change allowed Davis more flexibility as a helper, but also put him into more switches vs. Curry directly where he could try to disrupt his jumper and make his drives more challenging. And on the most important defensive possession of the game, that was the matchup we got.

With the Lakers up by a single point and the Warriors with the ball, Curry got isolated at the top of the key vs. AD. Curry tried to attack, but AD stayed with him and was able to contest a step-back jumper that Curry would miss. After a Draymond Green offensive rebound, the ball was kicked back out to Curry who was still being tracked by AD. But rather than test Davis off the dribble again, Steph settled for a very long three-point shot attempt that caromed off the rim and into the hands of Walker IV who was fouled and sent to the foul line, where he hit both free throws to build the Lakers' lead to the final margin.

And ultimately, in a game of such small margins, every detail mattered and it was the Lakers who made just enough plays to win. Whether it was AD, LeBron, and Lonnie with the big moments or Austin Reaves (21 points, 7-15 shooting) finding his offensive game in the 2nd half or Dennis Schröder (10 points, 5-9 shooting) bringing his typically hard-nosed two-way play, this was the type of team effort that was absolutely required to get such a hard-fought win.

And now that they have it, the Lakers will head back to the Bay Area looking to get the hardest win of all when the series resumes with Game 5 on Wednesday.