In the game of basketball, not all players are fit for the bright lights. The moment might feel overwhelming, they overthink and this tends to inhibit an athlete's performance.
Then there are players who thrive in those situations. Players such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant lived for those moments. The spotlight was never too big for them. Monday night the spotlight was not too big for the Los Angeles Laker's reserve Lonnie Walker IV. He displayed a "Mamba-like Mentality" scoring all of his 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors 104-101 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NBA Quarterfinals.
First off let me make things clear!
No, I am not comparing Lonnie Walker IV to Kobe Bryant. But in the fourth quarter, Walker had yet to score a point. By the end of the fourth quarter, Walker had 15 points shooting 6/9 from the floor, 1/3 from behind the arc, and 2/2 from the free-throw line. It was the highest-scoring fourth quarter by a Laker off the bench since Kobe Bryant, who scored 17 points against the Utah Jazz.
In the previous Game 3 Walker scored 12 points which was crucial in the Lakers win as well.
Walker The X Factor
Prior to Games 3 and 4 of the playoffs, Walker did not have much of a role. Coach Darvin Ham would play him sparingly at the end of games when the outcome was already decided.
But let's not forget, Walker earlier in the season was part of the Laker's starting lineup. He started 32 games before he went down with a knee injury. During that 32-game span, he averaged 14.7 points in 30 minutes of action, shooting 38.9 percent from the three-point line.
Once he was reinserted into the lineup the last two games Walker reminded us how dynamic of a player he is, and took full advantage of the opportunity. Without Walker, the Lakers could very well be down 3-1 in the series instead of being up 3-1.
Even Lebron James admits it!
"We don't win that game without Lonnie Walker tonight. That's for sure."
So it seems Darvin Ham may have found the key piece that could help propel the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals.
The Lakers can close out the series against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco on Wednesday.